Toronto singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell’s Stolen Time is an (often) intimate collection of lovely tunes that touch countless melodic tributaries that course from deep water folk music traditions. Now, just so you know (and oh my!) Abigail’s voice dances with the equally emotive steps as those of Linda Thompson, Natalie Merchant, Carly Simon, Carol King, Gillian Welch, and of course, Sandy Denny, in an always timeless “old fashioned waltz”.
The first song, ‘Land Of Plenty’, is a bare-bones beauty with haunted guitar and voice. It’s a hopeful immigrant’s prayer. It’s a sepia photograph of a tattered man with a suitcase who is yet to understand a word of English. Truly, the song could have graced Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album.
In total contrast, ‘Ships’ gets fitted with a vibrant full band wardrobe. This one digs a deep hypnotic groove with percussion, electric guitar, big sax, various odd and delightful sounds, and heavenly background vocals, all of which pulse with an always welcome rock ‘n’ roll halo.
But the pace then slows with rest of the album. The piano graced ‘Pines’ is a melodic prayer, with an earthy harmonica solo. And the acoustic guitar and voice return for ‘Scarlet Fever’, a subtle (aided by a gentle percussion and violin) song with an incredible and quite magically haunted chorus that touches the gothic shade of very Americana folk music. Then, there’s even more acoustic beauty with ‘All Dressed Up’ which has a delightful melody that captures the joyous isolation that glances (quite successfully) at the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Indeed, the tune inhabits a “Soul” that “selects her own society”. The same is true for the melodic ‘Old Flames’, which matches an up-beat melody with the lost embers of ashen memories. That, perhaps, is the clever thematic juxtaposition of the album’s soul, much like Tim Buckley’s emotions evoked with his Happy Sad titled record. There’s more: ‘I See Music’ is a slow-danced waltz (worthy of Randy Newman, circa ‘Louisiana 1927’) that swells with a languid trumpet under a heavy harvest moon.
And then there’s the quiet passion of ‘Waterfall’, a song that simply drips with lonely (and lovely) acoustic solitude.
The title tune, ‘Stolen Time’, sings with more of that pedal steel joyous isolation and conjures the absolute time stopping beauty of Natalie Merchant and Neil Young in their best acoustic moments.
Oh my – ‘Sewage’ is bleak and beautiful; and I say this with deep respect, the song possesses the heavy heart throb of a Linda Thompson sung song from those early Island records.
The final song, ‘I Can’t Believe’, is (almost) a Fifties stroll, still with a very acoustic heart, that bursts the very same bubble it somehow manages to magically inflate. You know, “the answer is always blowing in the wind”. Sure. And, to once again, quote the great Sandy Denny from her Like An Old Fashioned Waltz album, this is heavy harvest music woven “By the perfect lagoon where the nightingale calls”, where, of course, the “grass” is always “whispering”.
Artist’s website: https://www.abigaillapell.com/
‘Land Of Plenty’ – official video (or visualiser – whatever that is):