The Blue Raincoats is the new creative outlet for Keri Steele of Hush Hush. One guitar, one amazing voice. It all started in a living room in downtown Toronto with Steele and Hush Hush bassist Nina Martinez playing guitars and writing new songs for a projected third Hush Hush album. Steele soon realized that they were creating something new, something more stripped down than the band and with a greater emphasis on her voice. "After spending many years working in a band setting, it was time for me to branch out and work more independently with a different musical template; more open and vulnerable, and working with Nina offered that possibility." Reinvention is a word that may be overused, but is definitely not a cliché when applied to singer/songwriter Keri Steele. As a teenager in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, she was a founding member of ambient folk group Imaginary Heaven. After recording three albums with that line-up, Steele felt the need to stretch artistically and explore more contemporary forms of music. Forming Hush Hush enabled her to combine an identifiable band sound with the flexibility of working with a variety of musicians. Both Hush Hush albums, Cinematheque and Fake, were critically acclaimed and charted at Canadian college radio. The Blue Raincoats debut album was produced by Thomas Ryder Payne (ex-Joydrop) and features guest performances by Michael "Mez" Dilauro (Beautiful 2000), Josh Hicks (Wild Strawberries/K-OS) and Sarah McElcheran (Damhnait Doyle/Sarah Slean). As well as some great original songs ranging from the garage-band-with-horns of Backfire to the acoustic thoughtfulness of Nice Holidays, the album includes a bare bones version of the Nancy Sinatra classic "How Does That Grab You, Darling?" "There was really no question in my mind whether or not to record these songs, but I was very nervous when we began the process. I'm so proud of this music and I really wanted to capture the simplicity and rawness of our live shows while enhancing the songs with more instruments and layers. It was a very emotional process for me - more so than any other recording experience I've had. I'm more attached to the music and this is both a good and bad thing when recording it. But at the end of it all I feel we have an honest, dynamic and candid album and I'm very happy about that." The Blue Raincoats self-titled debut album is set for release in Canada on September 27th through Popguru Sound & Vision and distributed by Outside Music.
"When Keri Steele and Nina Martinez of Hush Hush started working out tunes for a third album, they probably didn't think it would spawn a new group. And they were probably surprised at how good the results were. From the opener, Middleman - a brittle vocal delivery over a propulsive, shambling guitar line - right on down to the delicately ethereal closer, Wasting Time, it's clear the two are on to something bigger than the term "side project" would suggest. The songs are intricately orchestrated but never over the top, retaining urgency and bite, yet with some surprisingly solid rhythms and super-catchy melodies." NOW Magazine
"Full of heartbreak and throaty vocals, The Blue Raincoat's self-titled debut is simply beautiful. It's an easy listen and one that takes you out of your head, into a music-induced stupor. Keri Steele of Hush Hush sings and plays guitar with melancholy soul, drawing the listener deeper and deeper into the album. By the time the last track ends, it feels as if you've been covered in a thick, cozy woolen blanket on a rainy day. There is something deeply satisfying and comforting about the sadness and intimacy she evokes with her voice. What begins as a pretty voice backed by moody guitar takes on a haunting quality that builds throughout the disc into a full, cohesive sound. The album flows with intensity from beginning to end." SceneandHeard.ca
"It's all about the electric guitar on Blue Raincoats' debut disc. Keri Steele's (Hush Hush frontwoman) new project mixes Sarah Slean-y horns and a jazz beat on "Childhood" with a surprisingly fitting guitar outro, while on opener "Middleman," the suggested edginess of the building guitar works alongside Steele's distorted vocals. Her vocals are still 100 per cent singer-songwriter, rock flourishes or no, and her songs feel at home when surrounded by the soft beauty of piano, strings and horns." Chartattack.com
"The duo of vocalist Keri Steele and guitarist Nina Martinez were joined by keyboardist and album producer Thomas Ryder Payne and trumpeter Sarah McElcheran, and the unconventional lineup made for a nice backdrop to Steele's pure and haunting voice. She made a mark with earlier groups Imaginary Heaven and Hush Hush, and with Blue Raincoats she may now be dressed for much-deserved success. Of the new tunes, "Apple Of My Eye" and "Backfire" made the strongest impression." Tandem
"Toronto's Keri Steele, the graceful singer-songwriter of Hush Hush, occasionally adds an indie-rock edge to her latest project, the Blue Raincoats, but it's still classy stuff." Globe & Mail