Unheralded songsmith Kat Burns has composed her finest work in Forest City Lovers with the engagingly ambitious Carriage, which showcases her alluring voice and a fearless knack for emotive pop hooks. While colleagues like Ohbijou, Basia Bulat and the D'Urbervilles garner a lot of attention, Burns has quietly established herself as an equally gifted and dynamic artist. In her own inimitable manner, she's a bold vocalist who comes across as endearingly playful and childlike (see "If I Were a Tree") even when delving into interpersonal affairs with candour. Overseen separately by producers Chris Stringer (Rush, the D'Urbs) and James Bunton (Ohbijou), Carriage is the most strikingly distinctive FCL record ― each song explores its own specific sonic texture and stylistic feel, leading fans down some surprising twists and turns. There's subtle, stirring might to "Minneapolis" and the chameleon that is "Tell Me, Cancer," a breezy pop jam that abruptly ends with a Born Ruffians-style spazz-out. Lead Born Ruffians singer Luke Lalonde actually stops by later to duet on the psych pop of "Pocketful of Rocks," which is a treat. There are many daring firsts for Forest City Lovers on Carriage, their most thoughtful and accomplished orchestral pop album yet.
How does Carriage mark a progression for Forest City Lovers?
Kat Burns: We hired a producer for the first time; we worked with Chris for the most of it and then Jamie for the rest, because we wanted another opinion and person in the room. Content-wise, I really wanted it to be more upbeat and poppy, but not a complete departure.
You don't normally sing with dudes. Why work with Luke Lalonde?
Well, on the last album, Snailhouse did some harmonies with me as well but this is more of a full-on duet. I really wanted to hear another voice singing with me on some of these songs and I thought, "Luke's gotta do it," and he said, "Yes." I really like his voice and he's got great range, so I thought it'd be interesting to see what he came up with.
Carriage seems like a loaded album title. Is it?
Well, I feel like it encapsulated everything. Carriage can be a vessel to carry things, but it can be a vehicle or a state of being or your demeanour. I thought it seemed like a great one-word way to describe the journey of making this record. (Out of this Spark)