Various Dig Your Roots: Spoken Word

Erratic production quality, microphone peaks and background fuzz plague Spoken Word, the latest release in the Dig Your Roots series of independent Canadian music. While the DIY premise of the project would make a polished sound impossible, such sloppiness can make for uncomfortable listening. The grit really only seems to work on Eve Langevin’s piece, "Bulletin de Nouvelles en Bref, Version 1,” delivered in the style of a clever phone-in report gone wrong, while fellow Montrealer Khyro flexes his seductive joual muscle on "Fragment de Réflection du Mirroir 2: Fort Vierge.” Fredericton’s Jeremy Gorman takes the collection in a more light-hearted direction, with lovely characterisation and excellent comic timing on "Pussycat Pussycat,” and Nico Rogers of Winnipeg makes use of wordplay in his piece, "Hard to choke your artichoke heart.” Shoddy sound aside, many of these pieces suffer either from dull, monotonous delivery that strips their work of emotion or from over-exaggerated enunciation — perhaps stemming from some of the performers’ discomfort in the role of spoken word artist. The only standout track on this compilation is one that finds an exciting medium between poetry and performance: "Mythology” by North York’s Unblind. Its raw feel echoes the energy and presence of a live slam, and his performer’s flare, full vocal range, natural rhythm, and visual storytelling style makes for a graceful, focused, and powerful punch. (Dig Your Roots/NCRA)