Toronto, 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. He guests on lead track "Kenyatta," while cellist/background vocalist Anne Bourne and pedal steel player Michael Eckert contribute effectively to three songs apiece. The central focus, however, is on Mairi's enchanting and supple vocals, poetic songs and the empathetic accompaniment of her three-piece band. 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, all convincingly, as shown on the one-two opening punch of the dramatic "Kenyatta" and "Just Go," and the grippingly intense title cut. That momentum isn't always sustained, as the rather countrified romp of "Scar" doesn't quite fit the overall tenor of the record. However, that's a minor blemish on a sterling achievement.
Read an interview with Ivy Mairi here. (Latent)