In her latest album, Edmonton-born Rebecca Lappa blends folk and classical vocals to create Ode to Tennyson, her fourth full-length album. The album is inspired by the works of 19th century British poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Lappa’s music is energetic and complex, with classical and folk influences dove-tailing into jazzy, Celtic and even Latin territory.
The opening track, “Mermaid and Merman,” has a serene feeling created by a simple piano and vocal melody. The song picks up and takes on a bubbly atmosphere, but is kept grounded by the drums and bass. The LP takes a serious turn with “Kraken,” which compares the turmoil of love to a kraken sitting just below the surface waiting to swallow ships whole. The rest of the album is varied — “Queen of May” has a smooth jazz sound, whereas “Field of Dishonour” borrows from Latin-American music. “The Light Brigade” has the feel of a Celtic march.
The album’s second last song “Lemon Mine” — which tells the tragic story of two friends who kill each other over a cave of gold — is set to a spirited tune, creating an unsettling contrast between the story and the music.
At first, Ode to Tennyson can seem like another generic folk record. But the album shines with Lappa’s ability to weave a storyline into her songs with the versatility of her voice. Whether she is singing a Celtic poem or a Mexican love song, Lappa’s voice fits perfectly and the variety keeps the album from being repetitive.