Published Jun 27, 2012Toronto, ON songstress Mairi was still a teenager when she released her debut album, Well You, in 2007, to much acclaim. It has been a long wait, but this superb sophomore outing confirms her potential. Cowboy Junkies main man Michael Timmins has been rather a mentor to Mairi, and he again takes the producer's chair, executing that role with restraint and clarity. Her combination of vocal purity and some imaginative sonics occasionally brings Beth Orton to mind, and No Talker would also fit snugly alongside recent work from T.O. peers Jennifer Castle and the Weather Station. Mairi can go from a fragile whisper to passionate shout within the same song. That momentum isn't always sustained, but that's a minor blemish on a sterling achievement.
Was the long gap between albums by design?
The way I approached the record was the same way I approach my songwriting. It is a pretty circumstantial thing, something that just happens. I did do some demo recordings in the years between, stuff that didn't really materialise into anything. I think I mostly needed time to learn how to perform. When I released my first album, I'd played maybe five shows. I joined Bruce Peninsula and did three tours of Canada and the U.S. in my first year with them. Then I started playing with my own band and when that started to happen my songs went in a new direction and I started thinking about recording again.
Was there a different mandate in working with Michael this time?
I just think I knew a lot more about what I was capable of. When we did the first album, I really knew nothing about recording or performing. We mixed it together and he was so patient in explaining how things worked and asking my opinion. This time I went in with my own band that I'd been playing with for six months or so. The goal was to do a lot more live-off-the-floor recording, whereas the first one was recorded more in pieces. It was nice to go in with fully formed arrangements and it all went a lot faster. I felt much more able to articulate the kind of sounds I was going for. My band are all music school dudes, as well as being rock'n'roll. They can speak to each other in that music school language when they need to.
Read a review of No Talker here.