We were proud parents when our younger daughter recently won two gold keys for her artwork the first time she entered the Scholastic Art & Writing competition. While art is as subjective as music, her teacher said they were gold key-worthy because she expressed her "personal voice."
Listening to Shotgun Jimmie and By Divine Right Feb. 9 at Windsor's Phog Lounge made us think of what that art teacher said. Personal voice. It's what separates nice from wow, good from great. Out of all the bands and singer-songwriters we see, the standouts are the ones with the ability to make a unique and personal connection between creator and listener.
Sackville, New Brunswick's Shotgun Jimmie expresses his personal voice with everyday scenes, experiences and observations framed by honesty, indie rock hooks and a foil-pan kick drum that doubles as a snare. (Minus the kick drum, the same could be said for his cheeky stage banter.) Whether backed by Attack in Black (Still Jimmie), as a nearly one-band man (on his new record coming out in March, Everything, everything - You've Changed Records) or solo on stage, with Jimmie it's personal.
It's been a rare occasion that we've seen a Canadian indie band that dates back to 1989, and have hits from the late 1990s. It may be even rarer for any band to perform songs from a new album coming out in May 2013 (Organized Accidents - Hand Drawn Dracula) that we like even more than the ones we already know. Especially to wafting incense, a glowing stage angel and a bass drum that asserts "Glory Be." All are a testament to the personal voice of Jose Miguel Contreras, the one constant in By Divine Right's cast of musicians that now include bassist Alysha Haugen and Geordie Dynes on drums. Contreras' art is a mixed media that dabbles in multiple genres and decades. The result is original, timeless and wonderful.
Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images