Call it prairie noir, or Canadiana desert rock: Abigail Lapell sings haunting, gorgeous modern folk songs, mapping epic natural landscapes and deeply intimate, personal territory. The Toronto vocalist, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist has released three acclaimed solo albums. Hide Nor Hair, her Chris Stringer-produced sophomore LP, won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album of the Year in 2017. Since then, Lapell has been on the road, touring across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and playing at festivals like Pop Montreal, Mariposa, In The Dead Of Winter, Tiny Lights and Folk On The Rocks. Getaway, , Lapell’s ambitious third release, is out February 1st 2019 on Coax Records/Outside.
“Powerful, sweet voice and warm guitar sound."
— NOW Toronto
“Her pipes have a smoky smoothness that creeps into the memories of your heart and lingers gracefully."
“Traces of Natalie Merchant, Sharon Van Etten, Frazey Ford and Sandy Denny."
— Folk Radio UK
“Haunting voice and impeccable guitar playing."
— CBC Radio 3
Getaway is bookended by songs about leaving. Opener “Gonna Be Leaving” echoes with the irony of someone who threatens to leave yet never goes—and the certainty that, sooner or later, every relationship will end. Closing the album, “Shape of a Mountain,” written in the Alberta Rockies during a Banff Centre artist residency, sets majestic scenes of wanderlust over cinematic strings (played by Vancouver cellist Peggy Lee, a Banff collaborator, and Toronto violinist Aline Homzy).
For Getaway, Lapell spent time in the mountains, digging through her vault of unreleased material, and ended up with dozens of road songs to choose from. Working again with Stringer at Toronto’s Union Sound studio, she expanded her pool of collaborators, recruiting Christine Bougie (Bahamas) on lap steel, Dan Fortin (Bernice) on bass and Jake Oelrichs (Run With The Kittens) on drums. Trumpeter and composer Rebecca Hennessy plays on “Sparrow for a Heart”—her trumpet swirling in a sublime duet with Lapell’s synth flute and electric guitar—and also arranged horn parts for band workout “Little Noise,” with Tom Richards on trombone. The latter, a subtle nod to the “Me Too” movement, may even inspire listeners to get up and dance. The album also features longtime collaborators Lisa Bozikovic on piano and vocals, Dana Sipos on vocals, Rachael Cardiello on viola and Joe Ernewein on pedal steel.
Getaway sounds fuller than Lapell’s previous records, her signature howl and warm, melodic guitar chops matched by a bluesy rhythm section. Building gang vocals on “Devil in the Deep” culminate in the entire band crying “Hallelujah, Amen.” Lapell and Stringer also incorporate otherworldly sounds, including an X-Files-like keyboard part on “UFO Song,” which tells the tale of a close encounter in rural Saskatchewan.
Yet there are also spacious piano interludes (“Leningrad”), and even an accordion tune (“Runaway”), that nod to how Lapell sounds playing solo. One of the record’s most striking moments is just acoustic guitar and two voices: Lapell and Sipos, captured live in a room together, harmonizing overtop plucked strings on the transfixing “Down by the Water.” The result is Lapell’s most eclectic and confident album to date.