"People drift away….people drift away…" sings Emily Haines in "Planets," the dreamy opening track to Choir of the Mind, her first solo record in ten years. Said people could be anyone — the 43-year-old frontwoman of Metric and member of Broken Social Scene knows plenty — but is more likely the self.
Choir of the Mind's 13 songs, composed almost exclusively of vocals and piano, are a journey to the centre of Haines' brain: anxious and questioning, mostly, but with sparks of defiance. Sparklehorse drummer Scott Minor appears on the centrepiece "Legend of the Wild Horse," a quietly powerful rock ballad surrounded by more breathy, ethereal material but peppered with the occasional pulse quickening beats of "Fatal Gifts" (which could fit well on any Metric album) and "Perfect on the Surface."
For the most part, it's quite a solitary endeavour, even on the title track, with its multi-layered voices (all Haines) over spoken word about feminine strength. It all drifts along at an unhurried pace, but if you've been waiting a decade for more of Haines' most intimate music, you'll be rewarded for taking the time to let Choir of the Mind sink in. (Last Gang)