Mary Margaret O'Hara Apartment Hunting

Eccentric Canadian troubadour Mary Margaret O’Hara returns with her first recording since 1991’s Christmas EP, and her first proper full-length since her worldwide smash, 1988’s Miss America — and she’s trying to slide it in under the radar, since it’s the soundtrack to a small Canadian film that played in theatres for about 30 seconds last summer. Though there are song contributions from the film’s writer/director Bill Robertson, and a track from Klave Y Kongo, this is Mary Margaret’s show and it’s a stunner. Her voice has deepened and matured in the ensuing dozen or so years, and while the album opens with her take on a bluesy diva, it doesn’t take long before her unique personality begins to spit and polish these compositions into her own distinct shape. Recorded on the fly in a haphazard basement studio with a variety of Toronto guest musicians stopping by, Apartment Hunting seems a perfect return for her. The pressures for her to follow up Miss America are huge and constant; with this, she’s managed a beautiful song cycle that she can also separate from herself, since its narrative serves the film — she also has a role in it as singer Homeless Helen. Though she was apparently reluctant to even allow the soundtrack to be released on CD, it is being quietly released very much under the radar. And since currently circulating copies are individually numbered, this may be an extremely limited run, so nab one now while you can.