Abigail Lapell
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Abigail Lapell

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Folk Alternative

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Music

Press


"Getaway (2019) - Review"

Canada is a land of liminal spaces and vibrant landscapes, and in her travels through and around the country — whether it be by bicycle, train, canoe or van — Abigail Lapell has engaged with the sphere around her. Getaway is a collection of road songs that build on the momentum of her 2017 record, Hide Nor Hair, but assembled in moments of movement.

As with Hide Nor Hair, Getaway was recorded at Toronto's Union Sound studio with Chris Stringer producing. Lapell pulled from her trove of unreleased songs and spent time crafting the tracks — and writing "Shape of a Mountain" — at an artist's residency at the Banff Centre. What she selected for Getaway was a batch of songs that celebrate space.

Take, for instance, the Saskatchewan-inspired "UFO Song," which tells the story of a supernatural experience as told to Lapell by a resident in Langenburg, or the love letter to a place of "Ask Me No Questions": "I was no angel but I fell for this town. I gave it all of my money, all of my time, it was worth every penny, every nickel and dime."

But movement occurs in multiple ways, and Lapell also spends time with actions of the social world. Nodding at the Me Too Movement on "Little Noise" — a danceable swoop with horns that put a haunting twist on celebration — and finding a sweet piano melody on "Leningrad," a track that outlines falling in love with a Putin-like autocrat with a dash of humour.

Getaway pushes at the bounds of what Lapell has achieved so far. Drawing horns, harmonica, and even an accordion together, the soundscapes paint pictures of their own, composing the feelings of the spaces they were created in. (Coax) - Exclaim


"Worlds of Songcraft 2019"

I’ll wrap up this week’s set in Canada (Europe > New Zealand > Canada … this ended up being an unintentional trip around the world, I guess my ears like to roam), with Abigail Lapell, an award-winning, but new-discovery-for-me, folk singer who recently released her third full-length, Getaway. Lapell is a haunting voice with a gorgeous sound, delicate finger-picked guitar and a suite of just-right instruments flesh out her dark-meets-light music. This is lazy Sunday music sunshine on a cloudy day or a bit of a shade when things get too bright, a record that kind of has you constantly doing that who-is-this-again? as each track catches you in a new way. Check it out, I think you’ll dig it! - Jambase


"Canadian Folk Music Awards 2017"

Abigail Lapell and Hannah Shira Naiman score emotional victories. - NOW Toronto


"Toronto Musicians to Watch in 2017"

It’s one of the longest up-and-comer stories ever, but Abigail Lapell’s career is finally taking off like a rocket. [Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of hers for over a decade, and we are friends]. Her handmade Heather Kirby-recorded debut, Great Survivor, came out in 2011, and now comes Hide Nor Hair (on Rae Spoon’s Coax label), which got a Burdock release party last week.

Produced by Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre), it’s dreamy and atmospheric, with moody viola by Rachael Cardiello and pedal steel by Mike Eckert. But the focal point is Lapell’s carefully thought-out lyrics, powerful, sweet voice and warm guitar sound, which often mimics her vocal melodies. She recently won the Colleen Peterson Songwriting award for Jordan (off the album), written on a broken piano during a residency in Michigan. - NOW Toronto


"Hide Nor Hair - Review"

One of the most notable characteristics of truly great singer-songwriters is the way in which the ideal forms of their songs are embedded in their own live performances. There is no simple blueprint to be written down and re-created by someone else; it's almost as if the song is a part of their being, their soul. Even with only two albums to her name so far, Abigail Lapell seems to be working towards that upper echelon of talent.

Lapell's highly respectable songwriting shines not in spite of its idiosyncrasies, but because of them. "Diamond Girl" not only subverts traditional romantic love song tropes lyrically, but bends structural norms with — in this case — uneven phrase lengths (five or six bars in some places), which keep the listener engaged. "Murder City" similarly adds or drops an occasional beat or bar, not out of some abstract technicality but because her singing is the leader; if the vocal line feels natural with a skipped beat, the drums will simply have to follow.

There's also startling variety within and between songs here, without ruining the warm and earthy feel of the record. "Hostage Town" is propelled by upbeat rock drumming, while "Jordan" floats on trickling piano and airy strings. The above-mentioned "Murder City" pares the arrangement down to what can only be called a "moody" drumbeat and Lapell's haunting voice. Speaking of which: Her pipes have a smoky smoothness that creeps into the memories of your heart and lingers gracefully.

While this record doesn't necessarily break bold new ground, its warmth and personality are more than enough to satisfy fans of rootsy-but-not-too-staid folk music, from Gillian Welch to Damien Jurado. Here's hoping this is the burgeoning of a long and fulfilling music career. (Coax) - Exclaim!


"Featured Artist of the Week"

This week, Radio 3’s featured artist is Toronto folk singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell. Her new album Hide Nor Hair is fluid and haunting, yet deeply rooted in punk and DIY.

Lapell recorded her debut album, 2011’s Great Survivor, in a living room with Ohbijou’s Heather Kirby. Following its release, she hit the road in a similar independent fashion, via canoe and bicycle. “In a country this size, there's so much ground to cover that sometimes it pays to be a bit unconventional.” she wrote via email. “Maybe that's a good metaphor for the Canadian musical sensibility.”

Some of the songs on Hide Nor Hair are influenced by the touring artist's greatest companion: nature. “I'm inspired a lot by natural landscapes and travel imagery in my writing, and by what I'd describe as pretty raw emotional content.” she explained. “My songs are highly personal, but not really in a confessional way — the lyrics are more impressionistic and dreamlike.”

Lapell has an ability to portray both space and emotion in her music. She writes about everything from anti-love anthems to navigating the G20 Summit of Toronto to dirty dreams, the latter of which is topic of the ballad "Jordan," which won the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award last year. She sews them together with her haunting voice and impeccable guitar playing, accompanied by the dreamy production of Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre, Ohbijou).

Hide Nor Hair will be out on January 20th on Rae Spoon's Coax record label. Her eclectic and elegant brand of folk are sure to see her staking a claim amongst Canada's most intriguing emerging songwriters.

"I think it's an exciting time to be part of the Canadian folk music community." she said. "Canada has obviously produced so many iconic singer-songwriters over the years, and right now there is a lot of inspiring work happening across the country, along with a push to include more and different kinds of voices than have traditionally been represented." - CBC Radio 3


"Abigail Lapell"

"...cloaks her songs in layers of mystery stained with hues of weird traditional folk."

(Full article appears in Fall 2017 print edition.) - Penguin Eggs


"3x3: Abigail Lapell on Pointers, Pillows and Promo Emails - Interview"

Artist: Abigail Lapell
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Latest Album: Hide Nor Hair
Personal Nicknames: Abi (only to my oldest friends) - The Bluegrass Situation


"Hide Nor Hair - Review"

"Haunting, gorgeous modern folk music. Co-produced by Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre), he and Lapell enhance her solo guitar skills with the most subtle yet effective textures." - The Record


"Hide Nor Hair - Review"

"Traces of Natalie Merchant, Sharon Van Etten, Frazey Ford and Sandy Denny." - Folk Roots U.K.


"Abigail Lapell Interview"

Toronto based folk-noir singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell is about to release her sophomore album, “Hide Nor Hair” – quite possibly, one of the first great records of 2017. Heavily influenced by her time in the art folk scene in Montreal in the 2000s, and recorded in Toronto with Chris Stringer (Ohbijou, Timber Timbre), the album features ten songs with a cinematic quality that take love and loss as their central theme, and provide a platform for a voice that floats over a musical accompaniment that features harmonica, piano, finger style guitar from Abigail alongside drummer (and whistle soloist) Benjamin Hermann; Rachael Cardiello on viola; Joe Ernewein on bass; Mike Eckert on pedal steel and longtime collaborator Jessica Moore on backup vocals. Abigail Lapell was the recipient of the 2016 Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award for the song “Jordan,” which appears on the new record. Abigail Lapell is on tour in Eastern Canada in January with a CD release show in Toronto at The Burdock on Thursday January 19. Abigail is also in Guelph on Sunday January 29 for a show at The Cornerstone. For more information, visit abigaillapell.com. Photo: Jen Squires. We caught up with Abigail in Toronto to chat about the new album. Music: Abigail Lapell “Night Bird And Morning Bird”, “Jordan”, “Hostage Town” and “Home to Me” from “Hide Nor Hair” (2017, Coax Records). - Folk Roots Radio


"Selected New Releases"

Also from CN Tower lands comes Abigail Lapell, a folk artist, and impressive disc Hide Nor Hair. The songs are beautiful and capture a peaceful spirit well. Those who appreciate artists like Gillian Welch will enjoy this. - Canadian Music Blog


"Hide Nor Hair - Review"

Since I was a little boy, I’ve gone deer hunting every fall with my father, up in northern Ontario where I grew up. It only happened once that I can remember, but my saddest memory of it is the time that we lost a wounded deer. We spent hours scouring the leaf-covered ground with flashlights in the dusk and into the evening. After a short blood trail, we lost track of it, and we couldn’t find, as they say, “hide nor hair”. As I listened to Toronto singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell’s new album, which happens to be called Hide Nor Hair, I kept thinking of those memories, especially in the albums most nocturnal and lost feeling moments.

Though the album is not specifically about searching for a lost animal, there is a sense of exploration and wanderlust throughout, especially in the first half. “Hostage Town” is an unsettled folk-rock song about looking for a place to belong during the G20 riots in Toronto in 2010, when the city’s gone wild and you’re not sure if you’re the hunter or the hunted.

“Night Bird & Morning Bird” is a swooping, diving number that sounds like two birds chasing each other back and forth across the planet’s terminator line. It also makes the best use of Lapell’s collaborators, Rachael Cardiello on viola and vocals, Joe Ernewein on bass, Jessica Moore on backup vocals, producer Chris Stringer, and some first-class whistle solos from percussionist Benjamin Hermann.

The most memorable track is also the one that’s most dissimilar from the rest, the piano ballad “Jordan”. With not much more than some subtle strings and an ominous, determined piano, the song shows off Abigail’s gift for a lasting lyrical image, where her dreams ride in “All night like galloping thunder, night horses on the run.”

As the album come to a close, it resigns itself to the fact that you have to go back home again someday, whether or not you ever found what you set out looking for. But before you do, you can have one last howl at the moon, as she does on the mournful lullaby “Full Moon”.

Top Tracks: “Hostage Town”; “Jordan”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop* - Grayowl Point


"Best Bets"

Abigail Lapell's folk songs are simple and pure, creeping up and slowly drawing you into her lyrical net. Soon you're wishing they'd never end. The Montreal native's songs are simple and pure enough to have won her the 2016 Colleen Person songwriting Awards. Lapell performs Monday, Jan. 23, 8 p.m., at The Casbah, 306 King St. W., with Matty Simpson and Justin Dunlop. CD release for "Hide Nor Hair." $10 at the door. - Hamilton Spectator/Waterloo Chronicle


"Hide Nor Hair - Critique d'album"

"On adore la beauté de sa voix sans artifice, l’authenticité de son jeu, la subtilité des arrangements… Et son petit brin de folie : la jeune demoiselle a fait deux tournées entièrement à vélo, deux autres en canoé et une par train à travers le Canada. Chapeau ! - Médiathèque François Villon


"Sean Michaels's Songs of the Week: Four Songs for the Holiday Season"

On this beautiful recording by Toronto singers Laura Spink and Abigail Lapell, you can feel the darkness of the room and the flicker of the lights, their harmonies as fragile as those glimmering flames. After listening to it, my advice is not to listen to anything else: In this noisy season, sit and let some silence be. - Globe and Mail


"Night Bird & Morning Bird - Video"

Abigail Lapell’s warbly and emotive voice drives this indie folker. The imagery of wooden birds flying over an imagined landscape completes the picture - Ride The Tempo


"Tune Your Ride Tour - Interview"

The Tune Your Ride Tour takes three independent Canadian folk musicians from Toronto to Ottawa by bicycle in August 2013. - Global TV News


"Recording: Abigail Lapell"

The songs hinted at city sadnesses, fairytale grimness and, er, dirty dreams played with more hints of crazyhorse bite than dainty gentility. - Mechanical Forest Sound


"GREAT SURVIVOR Review"

Lapell wins over audiences with memorable melodies, dead-on honesty and a voice that evokes sorrow as easily as water reflects light on a sunny day. Lapell first came to our attention last year through her evocative Demo EP. In 2011, she returns with her debut album, Great Survivor. Swinging the same velvety alto voice and an almost timeless story-teller mystique, Lapell vivisects the world around her in song, searching for understanding in poetry both abstract and refined.

Great Survivor opens with "Crescent Moon"; a promise to return in a light, whispy folk song as fleeting as the moon's phases. "Great Survivor" is instantly recognizable, with a chorus you'll swear you've heard a thousand times before. Lapell writes almost in thought arrangements, making abstract connections as a spider spinning a web. There's a hero crush buried deep here in artful poetry, but Lapell's fung shui lyrical style is so deeply imaged that it's not easy to follow without great care. "Sally" finds Lapell engaging in gentle word play as she once again surfs the abstract for understanding. This is one of the prettiest melodies on the album.

"All That I Wanted" is an angst-filled song of next steps, choices and indecision. Lapell's low key approach is a thing of beauty here. "Yellow Rose" finds Lapell exploring allegories for love and how it keeps missing the mark. There's a sort of non-committal melancholy here that's mildly intriguing, as the narrator sees her way forward alone. "Beautiful" looks at a prospective love with intense honesty, acknowledging baggage in the way. This could either be an intensely realistic look at a situation, or the self-doubting safety of one who finds it safer to love from afar than to act. Either way, the honesty here is compelling. Lapell changes gears with "Paper", a song about stepping out of time and simply being together. The cadence of the song is absolutely enthralling, and you'll find yourself drawn in almost immediately. Great Survivor bows with "Twenty-Nine" is a rumination on love and the uncertainty of its various courses. Lapell's voice bears the ghosts of country and folk in an unglamorous but plain-beautiful song that speaks from the heart.

Abigail Lapell is a distinctive voice, both as a singer and songwriter. Lapell fills her songs with highly literate lyrics born of deep intelligence and a struggle to understand human traits that are irrational and insane. Love plagues the songs on Great Survivor like water on an open wound. That which cleanses also hurts, confuses and often evades in Lapell's songs, but is revealed, as always, as the prime motivator of all that we do. Abigail Lapell's voice is of the earth, warm and wintry in its turn, but always evocative and full of emotion. Lapell leaves her heart out in view on Great Survivor, and you can't walk away without knowing the artist more than a little. - Wildy's World


"Self-Sympathy - Sean Michaels"

Abigail Lapell - "Self-Sympathy". Girl and guitar, sure, but really it's a bare and windy street, clumps of cloud falling from the sky, landing on the dry pavement. The wind blows the little packets of fog around; they collect by storm-drains, in the grafitti-smeared entrances to tenements. A raw ache that's been wined and dined, enlisted for use by a sweet voice. Lapell's guitar-work isn't anything special, but there's beauty indeed in the smoke that flows from her lungs, the way her words disperse storms, set the sky to gently falling. Like a sort of Sandy Denny, Natalie Merchant or Beth Orton, but Abigail lacks the twinkly eyes; instead, round dark things. She's from Montreal and this is from her EP. She has a new album I haven't heard. - Said the Gramophone


"Demonstration Recordings - Matt Hartwick"

Demonstration Recordings Demonstration Recordings is a five song compilation E.P from Abigail Lapell which she has created as a touring companion. I first met Abigail while she made a tour stop here in Kingston. - kingstonmusicreviews.ca


"Introducing Abigail Lapell - Melody Lau"

Her soft, acoustically-driven melodies and delicate vocals are reminiscent of Cat Power, Jenn Grant and even Julie Doiron. Songs like “Jackie Be Strong” and “Beautiful” are beautifully fit for a quiet night. - Singinglamb.ca


"Abigail Lapell promises not to cause her greyhound any tigers - Jamie O'Meara"

If you can't find it in your heart to give Lapell points for spending almost every day on a Greyhound bus for a good half of August, then you might consider giving her a kudo or two for really knowing her way around a personal and plaintive tune, many of which can be heard here: (www.myspace.com/abigaillapell). Go ahead, let yourself be impressed. - Hour.ca


"Abigail Lapell: intimate indie singer - Gilean Watts"

Toronto indie girl Abigail Lapell is currently bussing it Greyhound-style across the East Coast in support of her upcoming full-length album. The charming folk singer-songwriter took time to speak with Here about her decision to take the bus. - Here NB


"Boston - Sean Michaels"

Abigail Lapell - "Waking up in Boston". A song like a freshly-healed wound: tender, strange, smooth to the touch. I've written about Abigail before -- she's a Montreal songwriter, and this is from her new CD (which doesn't seem to be available on the net). I like this song very, very much. The guitar is a nagging thought, simple and electric. She sings like a lilting dark line - beautiful, sad. "I want to be alone / all alone / in the town where I was born." A sombre plea, and yet a happy one - the lift of major chords, the subtle appearance of a smile. Two and a half minutes of transporting sound, a postcard photograph of pavement, smoke, a woman in black. - Said the Gramophone


"Canadian Folk Music Awards Celebrate Music Artists Old and New"

Recognizing the achievements of veteran performers like Fred Penner and Danny Michel alongside lesser-known talents such as Ken Yates, Abigail Lapell and Moscow Apartment. - Ottawa Citizen


"Getaway (2019) Review"

Getaway is far and away a confident and poised collection of road-weary ballads and impeccable songwriting. - Dominionated


Discography

GETAWAY
2019 (Coax Records/Outside Distribution)
Produced and recorded by Chris Stringer at Union Sound in Toronto. Assistant recording by Darren McGill. Mastered by Fedge. Featuring Featuring Abigail Lapell (vocals, guitars, piano 4, harmonica, keyboards, accordion), Christine Bougie (lap steel 2, 6), Lisa Bozikovic (piano 1, vocals 1, 3), Rachael Cardiello (viola, vocals 3), Joe Ernewein (pedal steel 11), Daniel Fortin (bass), Rebecca Hennessey (trumpet 5, 10), Aline Homzy (violin 11), Peggy Lee (cello 11), Jake Oelrichs (drums, vocals 3), Tom Richards (trombone 10), Dana Sipos (vocals 1, 3, 8), Chris Stringer (additional sounds)


HIDE NOR HAIR
2017 (Coax Records/Outside Distribution) 
Produced and recorded by Chris Stringer at Union Sound in Toronto. Assistant recording by Alex Gamble. Mastered by Fedge. Featuring Benjamin Hermann (drums, vocals), Rachael Cardiello (viola, vocals), Joe Ernewein (upright and electric bass), Jessica Moore (vocals) and Michael Eckert (pedal steel).



GREAT SURVIVOR
2011 (Self-released)
Recorded by Heather Kirby. Additional recording by James Anderson and Leandro Marcondes. Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market. Featuring Jessica Moore (banjo, vocals), Lisa Bozikovic (piano, vocals), Heather Kirby (bass guitar), James van Bolhuis (drums), Aaron Lumley (double bass) and Julia Collins (violin).

Photos

Bio

Winner - 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards, English Songwriter of the Year

Finalist - 2019 No Depression Singer Songwriter Award

Winner - 2017 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Contemporary Album of the Year

Call it prairie noir, or Canadiana desert rock: Abigail Lapell sings haunting, gorgeous modern folk songs. Her solo albums have won two Canadian Folk Music Awards -- English Songwriter of the Year (2020) and Contemporary Album of the Year (2017) -- reaching #1 on Canadian folk/roots radio, #17 on the NACC folk chart and over ten million streams on Spotify. 

Lapell tours regularly across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, performing on vocals, piano, harmonica and finger style guitar. Her ambitious third album, Getaway, was released February 2019 on Coax Records/Outside. 

Over the years she's shared stages with the likes of Tune-Yards, Andy Shauf and Jenn Grant, and showcased at festivals including Pop Montreal, Mariposa Folk Festival, AmericanaFest and FreshGrass Festival, among many others. 

"Haunting, gorgeous modern folk music." -Michael Barclay, The Record

"Her pipes have a smoky smoothness that creeps into the memories of your heart and lingers gracefully.” -Peter Ellman, Exclaim!

"Haunting voice and impeccable guitar playing." -Louise Burns, CBC Artist of the Week