Sweet Pea is an excellent example of what can happen when two great minds collide. Rebecca Hennessy and Julia Hambleton have been making their rounds individually in Toronto’s local scene and now they’re partners in crime and we have their album What It Is. Hennessy is a trumpeter and composer who has worked with several bands and has been doing so since 2003. Hambleton plays clarinet and has dabbled in almost every genre imaginable and she definitely brings that diverse pallet to this album. You like a genre? Chances are there’s a touch of it in there, lots of jazz, a little reggae even hints of ska. Same thing goes for instruments. They threw the whole orchestra at this album and it makes it a lot of fun.
There’s no one way to describe what’s going on in the music. Like I said, a lot of genres and a lot of instruments, but there is method to the mass amount of ingredients. Hennessy and Hambleton were both committed to a very specific style of songwriting that was based mostly in strong narratives that are full of attitude and cheekiness.
They seem to align very well in terms of personal experiences and relationships. Their singing style is a subdued and modern statement of girl power. The lyrics are honest, crude and overtly personal. The moods projected are somber, reflective and playful. I have to say that the album title is so on point. There’s no false advertising here.
The production on the album is wonderful, and smells of solid, professional talent. There is a lot going in these songs and somehow I get to indulge in all the layers of the music and still have the vocal work be present and engaging. Recording and mixing was done by Joe Lapinski at WOW! Recording Studio. Overdubs done by Dave Clark at Bon’s Cave in Toronto. Editing by Michael Herring and mastering by Fedge with design by Hannah Zbitnew. So like I said, lots of hands, however, all these contributors played their part in assembling a great collection of music. It appears Hambleton and Hennessy have cultivated a group of people they trust who clearly understood their vision. Considering their time in the industry, I think both songstresses have developed tastes for quality and were able to deliver that in spades with the help of their entourage.
If I had a gripe I could express it would be that I wish there was a little bit more playfulness in the tone of the songs. There were lots of moments in the album where there were hints of pep and an upbeat direction and then it would cool off before it really had a chance to warm up. I was holding my breath for a big band dance number considering all the instruments and it just never really came.
What It Is gives so much to the listener, the price is a bargain and the replay value for music like this is endless. To my mind, these two were meant to find each other. It had to have been fate because they’ve made music people want. I say buy the album now because I have a feeling the price will only go up.
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