Arts & Crafts
So it’s a complete sucker’s move and a bloviating action to compare Bernice, the Toronto-based project of vocalist and songwriter Robin Dann, to the breezy stance of mid-1980’s Joni Mitchell. Keeping the obvious comparisons rolling…one can make the case that Dann appears to be a funkier version of Laurie Anderson in millennial garb. What stands out as boldface fact is this: Puff EP, the most recent offering from Dann and project collaborator Thom Gill, weaves a most non-conformist pop stratagem that keeps the feet dancing to thick low-end frequencies and the inner brain projecting mini-Technicolor motion pictures.
Born to a musical family, the daughter of a symphony harpist and the former Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s principal violist, and a graduate of Goldsmiths’ MA in Music, Dann’s background, formal training, and experimental sensibilities developed into Bernice’s sparse arrangements and pop-minded songwriting, often following curious and unexpected paths.
The five song Puff EP, co-produced by GRAMMY-winning producer Shawn Everett of Alabama Shakes fame, never seeks an easy resolve of simple trajectory. With “Don’t Wanna Be European,” Dann manifests a free-spirited and acrobatic vocal line that continues to journey throughout the song, while the track production is just as experimental. Neither construct constricts the other.
Bernice consists of Owen Pallett collaborator Thom Gill, Colin Fisher, Daniel Fortin, Philippe Melanson and Felicity Williams who are all professional musicians from Toronto’s music community and members of Owen Pallett, DIANA, John Southworth, Bahamas, Martha Wainwright, The Barr Brothers, and many others.
The Puff EP will be released June 16th on Arts & Crafts Records.
Listen to “St. Lucia” by Bernice: