Friday, February 27, 2015

A Post Apocalyptic Valentine straight from Kelly Haigh's heart

The secret's out, Vancouver's Kelly Haigh just released a fantastic album/book package.
For an exceptionally gifted multi-disciplinary artist like Vancouver's Kelly Haigh – who alternately uses paint, ink and guitar strings to create her enjoyably skewed narrative portraits – neither a conventional album package nor a coffee table art book could come close to capturing the twisted totality of her unique take on the human condition.

Leave it to Kelly to dream up a sweet yet somewhat Frankenstienian solution to the dilemma of documenting her prolific and disparate creative output. The 168-page book-bound Post Apocalyptic Valentines (Northern Electric) cleverly combines her latest set of collaborative home recordings with her creepy cool paintings, similarly dark short fiction and song poems which are offset by seemingly random snapshots featuring her trusty sidekick Frances the Singing Dog, hilarious hair salon anecdotes, between-song stage banter and a few life lessons thrown in for good measure. It's essentially everything Kelly does well neatly wrapped between two shiny black covers. Or as she'd likely point out: just about everything – ba-dum-tss!

No doubt there will be some clueless critics who see the rare quality of her brush work and assume that the CD is merely a bonus disc, included as an afterthought by a painter with Opry star delusions. But after just a cursory listen it should become clear that the musical component of Post Apocalyptic Valentines is not some misguided vanity project – it's all a part of a continuum of expression just using different media. Although the songs were obviously recorded on a minimal budget, her seemingly cute and whimsical way of delivering a deeply troubling message perfectly mirrors all the other work on display.

Much more a collaborative operation than her Country Western Star (Darling Music) debut from 2010, Post Apocalyptic Valentines benefits greatly from the vocal and instrumental support of her musician friends. However, the thoughtful contributions of Carolyn Mark, Paul Rigby, Skip Heller and Charlie Hase like the well-chosen covers of tunes by Jack Clement, Floyd TillmanDarius Greene and June Webb don't obfuscate Haigh's role in the recording process, they simply serve to underscore what makes her voice so very unique and resonant. You'll be haunted by Haigh's softly intoned threats for years to come. Post Apocalyptic Valentines could easily work as a stand alone album without the unsettling paintings, prose and off-beat humour but of course, that wouldn't be Kelly. Grab a copy while you can – it's certain to be the most fascinating album/books you'll see/hear this year.


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