By Yasmine Shemesh
Singer, songwriter and pianist Hilary Grist is splendid, in every which way.
Earlier this year, at the grand opening of a headphones shop on South Granville, I was paired with a delightfully-natured woman for a round of Guess That Song. The DJ played random snippets of tracks and it was up to us, and 20 others, to figure out what they were. Alas, we lost the game (ugh, that one song!) but the real victory fell upon everyone when, suddenly, the lovely lady with whom I shared my defeat took the make-shift stage. Unbeknownst to me, my partner was actually this incredibly gifted songstress.
A demure little thing with a big voice, the Quesnel-born, Maple Ridge-raised singer’s piano-driven folk is all at once charming with sophisticated notes of jazz. She seems to be a student of Ella Fitzgerald with a Norah Jones likeness—her croon delicate yet hearty; classically soulful yet fresh and new.
Grist’s latest release and sophomore full-length, Come & Go, joins an accomplished catalog. Along with a successful debut and a handful of EPs, her music has been featured on various television shows such asGrimm and Degrassi and her video for “Waltzing Matilda,” a punchy ditty off of the new record, was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2014 Western Canadian Music Awards.
Come & Go is slightly moodier and more dramatic in its arrangements than Grist’s previous offerings, but the melancholy is far from overwhelming. Mesmerizing heavies like “Goodbye Ghost” and “In Dreams” are offset by the joyful, upbeat tempos of tracks like “Chemical Reaction,” making the effort well-balanced and a treat for the ears.
Grist is a storyteller, leading listeners on a honey-dripped path of vignettes that explore the dualities of love and loss, beginnings and endings. Though her feet are firmly planted in the indie scene, her talent—and sweetness—are poised to blast off into the big time.
Catch Grist at the Mt. Lehman Fall Fair in Abbotsford on September 20.
Come & Go is available on iTunes and Grist’s bandcamp.
Published online at www.vancitybuzz.com, September 2014