The band Magnolia — made up of Leanne Hoffman and Scott MacLean — made their musical debut on Nov. 5 with the release of their powerful and complex eponymous EP. The duo combines folk, jazz and blues music to a potent effect, creating an album that can be curiously erratic, but is nonetheless enjoyable to listen to. The band, hailing from Halifax, enlisted the help of acclaimed artists such as Clive MacNutt on bass, Ben Ross on drums and Erin Costello on keyboard, saxophone and background vocals, who has herself recently burst on the musical scene with her album We Can Get Over. The collaboration of these talented artists pays off in the charming EP, which, according to Scott MacLean, is focused on the thought of love and its often exhausting effects.
The album opens with “Anyone’s Neighbour,” a slow-paced, lighthearted track that quickly showcases Leanne Hoffman’s wide vocal range over the steady and solid rhythm provided by Scott MacLean. The EP continues with the eerie and somber “Wandering” before slowly picking up pace again through “Time Will Tell” and “Honey Please” in which the album reaches its climax as both MacLean and Hoffman provide an endearing back-and-forth duet. The cheery, up-beat duet is then quickly followed by the melodic lullaby of “The Thought of Love” in which the soft vocals and slow rhythm create an enchanting, mellow track. Closing the EP, “Cold Dry Hands” continues the smooth sound but with a more serious undertone, leaving the listener with a satisfying ending to an album full of highs and lows.
The EP, although short, has remarkable variation and manages to provoke a wide range of emotion, though sacrificing a certain degree of consistency to do so. The end result is a pleasant EP with steady, catchy rhythms and strong, diverse vocals that deliver a unique mix of dark tones and comforting melodies.