Saturday, 13 February 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Ariana Gillis

If I told you that this generation’s Bob Dylan hails from a small Ontario town and recently won the Canadian Folk Association’s award for Young Performer of the Year, you’d probably believe me. But what if I told you that this generation’s Bob Dylan has vibrant red hair, wears plaid socks, plays the ukulele and is only nineteen years old?

Ariana Gillis began playing music at the tender age of six, and by the age of eleven had already recorded a demo CD. Accompanied by her father— the esteemed Toronto musician David Gillis— she began touring across Canada, introducing audiences to her unique style until it came time for her to record her debut album. To Make it Make Sense was released in 2009 and quickly won listeners over with Ariana’s intelligent lyrics, bold arrangements, and dynamic, appealing vocals. Listening to Ariana Gillis is like enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice on a sunny afternoon; her music is the perfect blend of youthful exuberance and precocious maturity.

From the rhythmic drums of opener “Blueberry Ocean” to the Dylanesque "Project Man", To Make it Make Sense is an album that honors Ariana’s musical influences and breaks with tradition. The resulting sound is captivating and utterly personal, as likely to put a smile on your face as it to bring you to tears.

To Make it Make Sense’s most recent single, the jubilant “Simon Brooke”, is currently enjoying regular rotation on CBC Radio 2; the song perfectly encapsulates its singer’s personality, with its warm, burnished arrangement giving a rousing accompaniment to Ariana’s quirky lyrics about her fascination with an obscure Vietnam War soldier – a man whose name is rapidly becoming familiar to listeners across North America.

The stories she tells are unconventional, frequently brilliant, and painfully relevant, yet they are anchored by her natural talent, innocence, sweetness, and fresh outlook on today’s confusing world. Like Bob Dylan, she holds a candle to the darker parts of humanity, and is not afraid to speak the truth.

Listen to more songs at her Myspace, or visit her official website here.

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