Valery Gore
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Valery Gore

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Alternative Pop

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This local chanteuse's self-titled debut album, just a month after release, has already achieved the ultimate benchmark for all intriguing artists: it instantly divides listeners between enthusiasts and antagonists. But Gore's cryptic cabaret-tone poems are a revelation for those who prefer their pop with some assembly required.
- Stuart Berman
- Eye Magazine


There's nothing more potent than a gal and her piano. Tori Amos redefined how we look at the instrument, Sarah Slean made her concerto-like soundscapes accessible, and now Gore is breaking new ground with this worthy debut. Her quirky, poetic verse is delivered in a voice with earthy roots and cabaret flair. It's hard to grasp where the songs are heading, but this is Gore's strength. She goes from gritty tavern-blues ballad to tiptoeing as a delicate songstress, quietly chiming the piano keys. Attention to detail textures the album with a style that's confident and playful.
-Jessica Russell
- Now Magazine


You’d be hard-pressed to find a better pianist than Valery Gore. Sure, she’s classically trained, but anybody can take a lifetime of piano lessons and learn a little Chopin; it’s the subtlety of her playing and quality of her songwriting that put her above the rest. She navigates odd-time signatures and fast-fingered progressions with ease, often using her soothing vocal coo to explore complex counter-melodies. Gore’s assured playing hints at a lot more to come. - Dose Magazine Ottawa


While Gore’s piano-based pop tunes have drawn more than a few comparisons to Slean’s, not to mention several harsh reviews (guilty), her songs are well written and she has an incredibly engaging stage presence. She was quite self-deprecating too, something that helped to endear her to the audience, though one couldn’t help but feel that she was being a bit too hard on herself after she asked the audience if they were “getting bored?”

As the set progressed, she showed that there was more to her music through the use of sampled vocals and a spoken word segment.

Gore’s show left this writer with a severe case of foot-in-mouth. Perhaps my initial assessment of her was a bit severe. She may bear more than a passing resemblance to Sarah Slean but she is very much her own artist.

- Andrew Horan
- SceneAndHeard.com


http://www.exclaim.ca/musicreviews/generalreview.aspx?csid2=850&fid1=35055&csid1=128

Valery Gore - Avalanche To Wandering Bear

Jazz pop doesn’t usually inspire gushing accolades over its brilliance but thankfully Valery Gore deals in a natural blend of musical sensibilities more suited to a fair trade mom and pop coffee shop than Starbucks. Her classical piano chops drive most of the songs found on Avalanche to Wandering Bears, but it’s the compositions that should garner the highest praise. Gore’s voice is a beautifully silky instrument that’s sure to be compared to Feist’s golden pipes but her songs are positively brimming with tasteful vibrancy in their arrangements and structures. Three tracks of stately pop perfection open the disc before the jazz-fusion of “Scared” lights a rhythmic fire under the listener’s ass with an unabashedly complex groove. It’s the mark of a great album when each song has such a distinct feel while remaining cohesive and well paced in the overall flow. “Knife Dream” sounds like something Sarah Slean would sell a million tears to write and never achieve. One of the best written and produced records of the year that should establish Valery Gore among the strongest female voices currently writing music.

Could you elaborate on the meaning of the album title?
Avalanche To Wandering Bear is a line from “Scared.” It’s a metaphor that I feel summarizes the themes of the record: the inner search of self, facing your fears and examining the value of your life, as well as the effects of the evolving relationships in your life. Everyone always tells me I have a very strong personality. But half the time, deep down I feel weak when up against my own mind while trying to find all the answers. You can be a bear but there’s always the force of nature to contend with when in uncharted territories.

How do you approach songwriting?
It depends on my mood. If I’m feeling super-emotional, there is an immediacy in the writing where both lyrics and music come out at the same time and usually the song is written quickly. Other times, if I’m looking to do something interesting both rhythmically and harmonically, which is usually the case, I start with writing the music and as you go, melodic ideas come to mind. I keep books of poetry where many of the lyrics come from for these songs. I’ll bring in the lyrics and add parts to fit the music where needed.

Why did you choose to self-produce the album?
There were a few reasons. The initiator was that I didn’t secure funding for the record, so it was done with my savings. I had wrapped my head around what I wanted in terms of arrangements and production, so I was confident that working as the producer on the record would turn out just as well as hiring someone else to help guide the project. Plus, I’m a bit of a control freak.

How did your recording line-up come together?
In terms of players? I’ve been long-time close friends with both my bass player and drummer, Devon Henderson on bass and Dan Neill on drums. They are both strong musicians. I love the chemistry of the band based on this fact. It gives me added confidence, them having my back. I was looking for an available sax player and then a bassist friend recommended Trent Reschny. Not only did he play all kinds of saxophones, he also was fluent on bass clarinet and clarinet. He came into the studio and aced everything. Ben Bowen, who I knew from Humber College, played trumpet.

Do you tour with the same musicians?
The trio are the same. Additionally, we have been working lately with a three-part horn section consisting of Trent Reschny and two other players, RJ Satchinathanthan on trombone and either Steve Dyte or Rebecca Hennessy on trumpet. We also have Joshua VanTassel doing percussion and electronic stuff.

Were any songs recorded that didn’t make the album?
Yes, one song. It’s the perpetually rewritten song. It was written in college and will be rewritten until I’m 75.

Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?
Mostly from thinking too much; I’m inspired by a conflicted mind. The song is a shrink that I’m sitting in with while trying to unwrap the reality of a situation. I’ve always read a lot of poetry. I like stretching lyrics and making them unconventional within the song, contorting their syllables into their own melodic language. I think Björk and Tori Amos were the big influences on that while growing up.

I noticed a Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt reference in “Shot on Film.” Are you a fan?
Hells yes. They were my favourite band from age 13 through to my 20s. A good dose of SP really brings me back to a pretty important time in a girl’s life! They were a good way to defy lady-hood.

You’ve played in Japan, Canada and Italy. How has the reception differed?
Japanese culture seemed much more conservative than Canadian. They are extremely quite, not only while you are on stage but also before the show even starts! There aren’t a lot of bar hooligans, at le - Exclaim Magazine Dec/Jan 2008


http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/story.cfm?content=166045

The conventional wisdom is that the first album is easier than the second, since you’ve had a lifetime to write it and no pressure except to make it good. But in Valery Gore’s case, she’s found the opposite to be true.

The Toronto-based singer/songwriter views her recently released sophomore effort, Avalanche To Wandering Bear (Do Right), as much more focused and developed than her 2005 self-titled debut, due to a wider range of influences and a slower, more relaxed approach to recording.

“The first record was pretty much live off the floor, recorded for under $2,000. For this one, I saved all my money and spent a lot more time on the arrangements and production,” she says.

“My influences totally changed after going to Humber for jazz. Surrounded by so many musicians, you’re exposed to much more music. Growing up in a small town, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the tastes of whoever’s working at the music store.”

This isn’t to say that Gore’s debut was by any means a disaster. Her songwriting and performances were already strong, but since then she’s added a lot more colour and creativity to that piano pop backdrop. References to cosmic jazz, soul and psych have helped push her beyond the coffee shop audience she might have been stuck with had she not had her horizons expanded by her college classmates.

“The first disc got good reviews, but I tended to get slotted in with all the other Canadian female singer/songwriters: ‘Great, another fucking Sarah Slean.’ I feel a bit like I’m restarting everything with this album.”

Changing labels from Six Shooter to Do Right should help accentuate this shift, since her new home is more associated with dance-floor jazz and future funk then with folk. Accordingly, she’s excited by the prospect of having her songs remixed, even though she confesses to knowing very little about dance music. Who knows? Maybe this experience will inspire Gore to reinvent herself again next time out. - Now Magazine - Nov 20/08


Valery Gore is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter specializing in quirky piano pop with jazz overtones.

Her self-produced sophomore effort sees her embellishing her delicate tunes with odd textures and tripped-out arrangements while keeping the hooks front ?and ?centre so her psychedelic tendencies don’t overwhelm the songs.
It’s a strong collection of accessible and addictive tunes, with just enough adventurousness to lift it above the thousands of jazz-pop singers hoping to get a taste of Feist’s crossover success. The only shaky moments on the album are her occasional attempts to inject some fusion flavours into the mix – the funk-rock rhythms don’t always gel with the overall vibe, but even those songs are strong enough overall to keep your finger off the skip button. - benjamin boles

http://www.nowtoronto.com/music/discs.cfm?content=165691&archive=28,9,2008 - Now Magazine - Nov 29/08


On an album whose dominant instruments are a piano and a soothing voice, it’s refreshing to hear Valery Gore avoiding the ubiquitous and tired cycle of laboured and introspective songs saturated in sombre minor chords. Gore’s first release on the genre-bending Do Right label incorporates a suitably diverse mix of the idiosyncratic and the meditative. Jazz-inflected piano stomps such as “Worried Head” and “Shoes Of Glass,” with their wayward key changes and sprightly ivory manipulations, do manage to challenge the more pedestrian conventions of the piano-led ballad or pop song, but her quirky approach also keeps her in the same company as the other kooky jazz-flavoured female pianists who came before.

- By Christian Martius - Eye Magazine - 11/20/08


Valery Gore
Avalanche To Wandering Bear
(Do Right!)
Fans of Jenn Grant and The Heavy Blinkers will fall for pop-pianist Valery Gore. Like Grant, there’s that sweet voice, and both write big songs that journey along with unexpected turns. Catchy “Shoes of Glass” should satisfy anyone missing the Blinkers’ summery pop. During her experiment with jazz-fusion on “Scared,” a tribute to singer Karen Krog, Gore sounds closer aligned with LA’s The Bird and the Bee’s music than anything recorded under the shadow of the CN Tower. It’s not all sweetness though: “Worried” juxtaposes horns with pretty subversive lyrics like “Without that beautifully worried head, there’d just be a bleeding neck.” - The Coast - Halifax


For her new album, the intriguing local singer-pianist took her time, refining the tunes and their eventful arrangements. ...adventurous pop - think Brit singer Adele, but with ambition - is the pleasing result.
- Globe & Mail - Nov 20, 2008


Discography

Avalanche To Wandering Bear - Nov 4, 2008
S/T - Six Shooter Records - Apr 26, 2005

Photos

Bio

Valery Gore returns with her self-produced sophomore album, Avalanche To Wandering Bear. Her debut on Do Right Music, it’s the record she’s wanted to make since she began writing songs, a waif whispering lost tunes in the basement so those above ground couldn’t hear.

Avalanche To Wandering Bear is borne of stubborn restlessness. The curiosity, trepidation, and victory of discovery are wrapped in a heavy dose of danceable rhythms, soul, and humour. With its tumbled lyrics, un-conventional arrangements, and progressive piano, Avalanche sets the mood for a bold audio journey.

The album features a handful of singles; Shoes of Glass has lush vocals harmonies and a steady 1950’s mo-mentum. Worried Head is charismatic in its lyrics and full with driving Motown horns. Scared pays homage to jazz fusion singer Karin Krog and lends an esoteric metaphor to the album name. Consolation’s harmonium arrangement and solid piano is a rough outline of Gore’s admiration of producer Jon Brion’s work.

The piano tones of Avalanche range from the prestigious Steinway of CBC’s Glenn Gould studio to the grit-tiness of The Hive’s cranky upright. The first blending seamlessly with the epic woodwinds of Sparrow, and the second setting the vaudeville-esque Red Eye Family against a backdrop of ticking pipes, settling rain and distant ghosts.

Engineered and mixed by Tim Abraham, this album’s depth and dynamic is matched by the musicians who made their mark on it: Devon Henderson on bass, Dan Neill on drums, Trent Reschny on saxophones and clarinets, and Ben Bowen on trumpet.

The Toronto-based pianist and songwriter began her musical journey from the age of eight, tapping unemo-tional melodies on the black keys. Valery’s performing repertoire grew from songs about bees and snack time to the classical masterpieces of Chopin, Debussy, and Liszt. All the while her ears were tuned to her dad’s playlist of 70’s - 90’s rock. Gore topped it off with jazz piano studies at Humber College and wove these disparate sounds into her own undefinable genre.

Her self-titled debut album was released in 2005 with Six Shooter Records in Canada and Europe. She toured Canada, Italy, and Japan, headlining and supporting such artists as Jorane, Josh Ritter, Joel Plaskett, and more.

Valery Gore’s words and music transcend emotions, force you to gear-down and listen, feel. Avalanche to Wandering Bear is Valery’s “lifejacket to the drowning.”