Selina Martin Life Drawing Without Instructions

The Queen Street spirit remains alive and well in this second full-length from Toronto native Martin. It’s been six years since her previous release, and the hard work in between is apparent in the album’s dense and dramatic construction that ranges from hushed acoustic musings to anthemic symphonic passages. Any fan of Jane Siberry or the Rheostatics will instantly be captivated by Martin’s impressionistic approaches — the Rheos’ Martin Tielli and Michael Phillip Wojewoda had a big hand in the project — but her songs stand on their own, mostly through the inherent innocence of her lyrics and vocals. There’s a wide-eyed sense of playfulness on songs like "20 Miles,” and "For Love,” that Hawksley Workman would do well to take note of, and Martin displays some hefty rock chops on "The Lost Man.” Another highlight is the gorgeous ballad "Saskatchewan,” with its refrain, "You’ll always go back to the farm.” Likewise, Martin is returning to some mighty ambitious CanRock soil, but the results are never less than thrilling. (Independent)