Sunbear Sun Streaming In

Sunbear Sun Streaming In
Toronto, ON country folk singer-songwriter Kate Boothman briefly traded under the name Horse, and is now reincarnated as Sunbear. Slightly dodgy moniker aside, this is a potential-packed project, judging from the formidable strength of this debut album. The tempo throughout verges on Cowboy Junkies-/Mazzy Star-like slow and sombre terrain, but the eloquent songs and performances ensure that tedium is kept at bay. Boothman has a pleasingly understated vocal style, one fully showcased on the gorgeous "City Escape," on which she is solely accompanied by the haunting pedal steel of Dale Murray (Cuff the Duke). Elsewhere, the extensive use of female harmony vocals (from Julie Fader and Melissa Boraski) complements her voice most effectively. The impeccable instrumental work is provided by such notable players as Travis Good (the Sadies), Murray, veterans Michelle Josef and Clive MacNutt, and Greg Keelor, who recorded and mixed the album at his farm. The interplay between Keelor's resonant guitar twang and Murray's steel on "Diamonds and Gold," in particular, is a real highlight. The colourful cover art by indie rock hero Rick White (Eric's Trip) is a bonus on this charming disc. (Independent)