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The Georgia Straight - - Music - By

from page 37 my back­ground in vis­ual arts, and that I’m trained to think of art as a body of work, and that you have to frame your work some­how. Even with the idea of paint­ings in a room, the way you ar­range them lets them have a sort of con­ver­sa­tion. I want my songs to in­ter­act the same way.”

There are plenty of in­tel­lec­tual Easter eggs in Howl for ded­i­cated lis­ten­ers. Much of the al­bum fea­tures field record­ings from B.C., in­clud­ing birds and the sounds of the wind and sea—a choice that Mcdaniel says al­lowed her to ex­plore her re­la­tion­ship to the land. Pep­pered with in­ter­ludes and dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion strate­gies— some songs are recorded out­side, while oth­ers are slickly put to­gether in the stu­dio—the al­bum mas­ter­fully re­peats ideas across its tracks.

“The track ‘Ava’,” she says as an ex­am­ple, “is a record­ing of my sis­ter’s youngest daugh­ter. I won­dered what a child’s re­sponse would be to think­ing about these themes. Kids of­ten have such in­ter­est­ing things to say be­cause they don’t try too hard. I asked my sis­ter to try and get their take, and one of the ques­tions she asked was ‘What an­i­mal would you want to be?’ and Ava says that she wants to be a wolf. It was funny, be­cause Ava ac­tu­ally means ‘bird’ [from the Latin avis]. There are a lot of field record­ings and a lot about birds in the lyrics, while the wolf came to­gether with the name of the al­bum.”

Mu­si­cally, the al­bum is as deep as its the­matic con­nec­tions. Mcdaniel’s ethe­real voice drifts along with ac­com­pa­ni­ment from acous­tic and elec­tric gui­tars, and oc­ca­sion­ally vi­o­lin, bass, and or­gan. Folky dit­ties con­trast with full-bod­ied songs like “Pipe­line”, a track that chan­nels Ar­cade Fire at its most pow­er­ful. Some of the record’s unique­ness, Mcdaniel says, comes from her de­ci­sion to use only fe­male col­lab­o­ra­tors.

“I thought about go­ing in that di­rec­tion two years ago or more now,” she says. “I’m just be­com­ing more aware about gaps in the mu­sic in­dus­try, and won­dered, ‘What’s my way of ex­plor­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­ver­sa­tion?’ I thought it could be an artis­tic con­straint. I know a lot of guys who play elec­tric gui­tar, and I could ask them, but I’ve never re­ally tried to find the great ses­sion mu­si­cians who hap­pen to be women. It made me come across ta­lented peo­ple that I’d never met, like pro­duc­ers and mas­ter­ing en­gi­neers. And then there’s some loose con­nec­tion there to re­con­nect­ing to na­ture and the fem­i­nine voice. In mythol­ogy, the land is al­ways fe­male. It brings life and fe­ro­cious­ness, and rest and peace.”

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