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Showtime

To Be Announced

Origin

Sudbury, ON

Genres

Alternative, Indie

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Jennifer Holub

The Reckoning
There are several definitions of the word “reckoning,” but the one that’s been foremost on Jennifer Holub’s mind is the most ancient—punishment for past misdeeds. That theme runs through the 10 songs on the Sudbury, Ontario native’s sophomore album, a collection she envisioned from the start as a feminist call to action.
Working with co-producer Jonathan Danyliw (Murder Murder, Pistol George Warren) and engineer Matthew Wiewel, The Reckoning marks a major artistic step forward for Holub who builds on her previous Americana-tinged sound with a range of elements—everything from vintage soul to EDM—that adds up to a reflection of her northern environment: pastoral, cold and resilient.
The album also presents the first fruits of Holub’s decision to make music her full-time pursuit, and she’s set up to have the road be her home well into 2019. “I still love my older songs,” she says, “but I wanted to learn more about arrangements through experimenting with sounds in my home studio. Telling a complete story through sound became an important goal for me.”
Holub adds, “I’d been sitting on some of the new songs as ideas for years and I would sing parts of them to myself when I would drive to work. I finally started putting them together when I spent a month at my partner’s family house in the woods. Some of the songs came through me very easily—as if I needed to exorcise something.”
That notion certainly rings true on the songs “Caroline, You’re Gonna Be,” “Sin For The Child” and “Not Pretending,” while other tracks like “Way Out” and “Island” grew from more specific touchstones. She explains, “‘Way Out’ was one of the songs I’d half-started two years ago, and I knew it was about prison. Then I watched Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill’s 1978 disturbing documentary Tattooed Tears and it helped me focus on that song and eventually complete it over the course of two days. But it was one of the most difficult songs for me to write, very slow going.
“‘Island’ is rooted in my connection to John Donne’s poem commonly known as ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls,’ which contains the line, ‘No [hu]man is an island.’ That’s essentially been my mantra when it comes to my participation in social movements and reconciliation. The belief that one is somehow removed from the discussions we are having about human rights is completely absurd; we are connected to a whole inextricably. The song itself was supposed to be a somber ballad, but the only beat that really seemed to work was an EDM beat. So when I was putting the vocal track, I ended up singing it very differently from the demo and it instantly became a dance song.”
The Reckoning does retain some of the Americana flavor of Holub’s past work, particularly on “Bound For Glory” and the devastatingly confessional “Rider.” However, genre distinctions have less meaning for her than they ever have, and Holub cites artists as diverse as Mavis Staples and Zach de la Rocha as her primary inspiration for The Reckoning. “To me, artists like them represent the potential of music to affect change,” she says. “I have always listened to these artists and have been connected to that breed of songwriting. They have taught me how songs can inspire hearts and minds when rhetoric fails.”
In keeping with that idea, Holub closes The Reckoning on a hopeful note with “If You Stop, They Win,” a song that stemmed from an experience with a group of young students she was working with. When a teacher in an adjoining classroom complained about some of the kids playing piano, Holub and another teacher moved the piano to a hallway. The kids asked Holub to play a song and she chose “Someone Like You” by Adele. More students came in from recess at that point, creating a scene with 40 or so kids all singing at the top of their lungs.
“It was a very powerful moment because it was born out of a fragile situation that could have turned the kids away from the piano completely,” Holub reflects. “I had almost finished recording the album, so when I got home I wrote ‘If You Stop, They Win’ that night and we put it on the album as the finale the next day.”
It is entirely plausible that crowds will be singing in unison to Jennifer Holub’s songs in short order, as the messages on The Reckoning are sure to resonate with anyone harboring concerns about the state of our current society. It is an album for our time, and for all time.

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Ansley Simpson

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Ben Sures

Edmonton, AB

Cris Derksen

Toronto, ON

Jane’s Party

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Jennifer Holub

Sudbury, ON

Kevin Closs

Sudbury, ON

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Alderville First Nation, ON

Nick Ferrio

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Safia Nolin

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Sam Roberts Band

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