Sound Advice: No Talker by Ivy Mairi
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Sound Advice: No Talker by Ivy Mairi

Ward's Island native Ivy Mairi's soulful voice rings strong on her second release.

No Talker is the second and latest release from local songstress Ivy Mairi. The album was partially inspired by cellist, composer, and singer Anne Bourne, a long-time influence on Mairi; the songstress also cites Neil Young and British singer Shirley Collins as inspirations. Mairi’s experience growing up in our city on Ward’s Island lends itself to an album that combines blues and jazz with more traditional folk influences.

No stranger to the Toronto scene, Mairi is part of the cast of musicians involved in Bruce Peninsula, and has also lent her voice to Isla Craig and to indie bands like Entire Cities.

No Talker starts off soft and mellow, with Mairi’s voice showing quiet conviction on the first two tracks, “Kenyatta,” and “Just Go.”

On this album, she is joined by backup musicians Lucas Gadke and Michael Brushey, who lend a soulful, blues-y feel to the songs. While bass and drums at times seem sparse, it is interesting to hear more supplemental use of instruments, without them overshadowing the solo feel of the album.

No Talker through its timbre alone advances a narrative, with the calmer, more bucolic early tracks building up to more soulful tunes, as though Mairi is coming out of her shell throughout the course of the album. You hear it in songs like “I Can See You,” where she suddenly busts out—different, deeper, haunting—it is cliched but entirely fitting to describe this as “Adele mashed up with Feist.” (Feel free to assess for yourself by listening to the track above.) The penultimate (and title) track feels very cathartic as a result, and it makes the last track on the album, the quiet “Wintry City,” resonate as a chilling denouement.

No Talker effectively balances more traditional, vocal-driven melodies with seemingly incongruous, technical classical melodic elements. It’s sort of like the pleasant culture shock of taking the ferry across to the Toronto Islands after years in the city—seeing how pretty the landscape is juxtaposed against the Toronto skyline and wondering why you hadn’t thought of going to visit before.