This year’s ECMA shortlists are out, and Newfoundland artists have received fifteen nominations. Local songstress Amelia Curran owns a whopping third of those nominations, for a total of five, in the following categories: Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for “Blackbird on Fire,” Folk Recording of the Year, and, Solo Recording of the Year for her album Spectators, and Song of the Year for “Years,” and “What Will You Be Building.”
A great list of songs, but, this is the album’s true gem? “San Andreas Fault”
Normally you see one album up for five awards, and you have question how many albums they actually consider, if one songwriter can be up for so many awards. But when it’s an album this nice and nicely done, you question very little about the process. For starters, Curran has one of the nicest, most distinct and effortless voices this side of Canada. You can hear most singers singing, reaching. Curran though, it’s such an effortless talent. And her approach to the guitar is equally effortless and distinct; it’s limber and catching, it’s spare and graceful in a manner that doesn’t get in the way of her voice, and lets it shine.
Spectators is her sixth studio album, and her third one released by one of Canada’s most revered labels, Six Shooter Records. Six Shooter signed her, and immediately re-released her album, War Brides, that earned her two ECMA nominations. Her last album, Hunter, Hunter won a Juno and was up for four ECMAs. And now look, this one’s got her up to five nominations. On Spectators, Curran steps back a little on her sound, creating a unique breed of folk music. The songs are laid bare, with minimal instrumentation, yet they’re rendered full by a unique treatment of the instruments supporting her distinct guitar and vocals. The short bursts of percussion on “Years,” or the rolling ones on “The Great Escape,” make each song distinct, interesting. “What Will You Be Building” has some harmonizing horns, barely there. The vocals on “Blackbird on Fire” are stacked in a very catching way. Laying her music so bare is risky business: it requires, it demands, two things: A stunning voice — which is no problem for her — as well as solid lyrics, since they’ll be so front and centre. This is also not a problem for Amelia. She’s a poet, every line counts, builds a point or a story. Even her straightforward lines have a ton of punch, “I want to make you understand, that it’s a woman makes the man.” All in all another great album from one of our island’s true lady folk icons. It was actually a 2012 release. If you managed to miss, get in on the ECMA buzz.
Here’s the video that’s earned her an ECMA nomination, “Blackbird on Fire.”