Heather Hill launched her new CD, Leuty Station, at the Drake Underground last night – and what a night!
Met my pal Lizzie Violet out front and we stopped by the merch table to visit Meghan Morrison, who co-wrote “Wading Through Normal” with Hill and producer Orville Heyn for this record. I picked up a copy of Leuty Station, as well as Hill’s NYC recording of her debut CD Listen. Listening to Leuty Station as I write this – and I love that Hill included a lyrics booklet with this CD!
Micah Barnes opened with a fabulous set of jazz and R&B numbers, accompanying himself on a gorgeous baby grand. Sexy, playful and charming, Barnes gave us a few mini-sets, rising in between to chat with the audience from the centre microphone and introduce the next theme. I’m always a sucker for songs about love. And New York City. Barnes lived there for a while and said people who go there don’t want to leave. I can relate. His conversation with NYC reminded me of how much fun I had there during a three-day visit a few years ago, but how sad it was to leave it – and how I’m not sure I’d have the chutzpah to live there 24/7. Pay Barnes a visit here: http://www.micahbarnes.com/
After a short break, the main event: Heather Hill and band – including three female back-up singers – ascended the stage, with Hill taking her spot at the piano, and launching into a set that included most of the tracks off Leuty Station, with a couple of extras in between. Every song brings a different colour, a new shade, and showcases Hill’s songwriting (co-written with various folks, many with Heyn) and vocal chops so very nicely.
Some personal stand-outs for me: “Last Train” – a powerful song of drive and desire, featuring an amazing acoustic guitar solo. “Second Chance” – the vocals smooth and sexy, with heart-wrenching lyrics that brought tears to my eyes. “Wading Through Normal” is a powerful anthem to a single mother’s daily grind and sacrifice – and reminded me that the day after the launch is Mother’s Day. The title track “Leuty Station” references a lifeguard station in the east Beaches of Toronto – and the station is featured in the gorgeous cover photo on the CD – a beautiful, melancholy reflection in a moment of solitude. “Strawberry Girl” is a tribute to Hill’s parents’ love; the “girl” of the title is her mom. I love the line that the secret of their relationship is no secret: “Love, god’s faith and laughter./And a strawberry beach bag.” “Between the Leather and the Lining” was one of the first songs of Hill’s I’d heard, and I love the upbeat pop vibe of this tune on the secrets of handbags, especially the horn arrangement (reminiscent of the Beatles).
Musical surprises included a really fun cover of “Our House,” with Dave Restivo joining the band on piano while Hill took the centre mic. The back-up singers, Humber students nearing graduation, are known collectively as The Au Pears and treated us with a lovely three-part a cappella song – a hauntingly beautiful, original, Celtic-inspired ballad. Definitely keep your eyes and ears peeled for these ladies.
An incredible evening of music and friends – with the added fun of a door prize: a very cool original handbag, designed and created by Heather’s friend Jane. “Leuty Station” is beautiful, moving and powerful CD of inspiring original tunes performed by the lovely, talented – and classy – Heather Hill and a selection of incredible musicians.
Visit Heather Hill and give her a listen at her site: http://www.heatherhill.ca/fr_press.cfm
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: In yesterday’s post on Life As A Pomegranate, I incorrectly referred to Kat Leonard’s song “Not Us” as “Happy People” – that’s been corrected. My apologies for the error – and thanks to Kat for being so cool when she pointed it out.