Speaking courageous and tender to the hungry hearts of poets, activists, and lovers alike, Folk songstress Layah Jane is the shy one with head-turning presence; the tall one with the bright smiling eyes, tangled curls, and dancing hips. She is a velvet-voiced tunesmith of clever, conscientious Canadiana that seeps into the soul.
With a poetic and political conscience from teenage years rocking to Ani Difranco, tender vocal phrasing from pressing walkman earphones spouting Sarah McLachlan into her middle-school ears, and an instinctive understanding of harmony and rhythm from in utero exposure to her parents’ Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Sade, and Kate Bush records, Layah Jane has studied the grand dames of her musical lineage, and has discovered and developed her own spirited voice.
Layah began crafting songs in her early teens, and has bewitched listeners ever since. Don’t be distracted by the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, the Ontario Independent Music Awards for Best Folk and Best Female Artist, the Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Jazz, or the songwriting award for Best Political Song at the Ontario Council of Folk Festival’s conference. Resonance bowls over award plaques, and melody sticks stronger than boastful bios or promises from strangers: You won’t be disappointed. You’ll hum like a bee with Honey...
Honey, the fan-funded third full-length release from Layah Jane, hit stores, digital download sites, and off-the-stage merch tables on February 8, 2011. Producer/guitarist/composer and longtime collaborator Oliver Johnson was at the helm again, guiding a co-creative process that resulted in a collection of songs that feature the tenderness, intelligence, and warmth of Layah’s Folk/Soul. Honey collaborators include Drew Birston on electric and upright bass (Chantal Kreviazuk, Sultans of String, Amanda Martinez), Davide Direnzo on drums and percussion (Holly Cole, Hawksley Workman, Feist), Scott Galloway on keys (Matt York, Nine Mile), and Brian MacMillan on electric guitars and banjitar (Kevin Hearn, Barenaked Ladies), among others.
With 5 recordings released in 7 years on the independent Grace Note Records, (Honey in 2011, Brightness & Bravery in 2008, Patience EP in 2007, and Grievance & Gratitude and Grievance & Gratitude Remixes in 2005), Layah’s prolific and passionate songwriting is carving her the kind of music career that is fruitful and long-haul steady.
The web of self-booked tours that Layah and Oliver embark on criss-cross North America. They add more miles to a little white VW bio diesel-fueled Jetta than the mechanic cares to count, scarf down more almonds and apples than the average touring vegetarian rockstar can stand, and meet many a beaming, cheering audience along the way.
The magical silence that holds potent soft notes together and sets roaring ones apart is Oliver Johnson’s guitar specialty. With R&B rhythm dirty from his years on the road with Canada’s forefront soul and funk players, and melodic intuition from his Jazz college background and 12 bar Blues-tinged childhood, Oliver adeptly plays the range between subtle and raucous, with emotive atmosphere and blistering solo leads. His sensitive and soulful accompaniment is integral to the dynamic of Layah’s live and recorded work. Their onstage chemistry: electric. The product: palpable joy.
Lucky for those in the path of Honey’s sweetness, 2011 will see Layah Jane sing her way from coast to coast yet again.