By Michael Dunn
CALGARY – With her master’s degree in harmony and composition complete, Edmonton singer-songwriter Dana Wylie finally feels like she has found a sound that suits her in the studio. Organic and replete with the strings, horns, and bells of Motown pop, Wylie’s latest record, The Earth That You’re Made Of conjures a chill and sunny ‘70s singer-songwriter vibe, with melodies and composition that introduce a note of jazz into her pop-folk.
“I feel like I’ve come to a place where all those super eclectic influences I’ve found in the last 20 years have turned into cohesive voice inside me,” Wylie tells BeatRoute. Her experience in school taught the extreme minutiae of the ins and outs of music theory, but Wylie’s style of delicate songs driven by piano and guitar still remain. “I’ve learned counterpoint, atonal theory, 12 tone theory, all of this high-level classical theory, but even in my first year, I knew almost immediately that that high-level thought really wasn’t applicable to what I do as an artist.”
Wylie’s album is a gentle breeze of pop-folk that blends into the atmosphere it’s in. Subtle and lulling, her voice is the sound you’d hear in a forest haunted by benevolent ghosts. With provincial and municipal funding, she and co-producer Harry Gregg were able to expand the production, adding the soulful components present in the strings and horns that adorn the final product, adding wisely arranged parts that never overpower in the mix.
“The record was planned for Daniel [Stadnicki, drums], and Keith [Remple, bass] and I to do in a low-key fashion, but when we applied and received funding, we were able to add all of the flourishes that open up the character of the record. I wrote and arranged the horn charts, which was the first time I’d ever done that, and I had to ask some of my mates from school if I was doing it right,” Wylie says with a chuckle.
With her academic experience behind her, Wylie still remembers her live experience as the perspective that helped her through the courses.
“A lot of the early theory work was a review for me, but I found in other settings, my experiences as a touring artist brought a different, and often more practical benefit to some discussions,” says Wylie. “It may have helped me more in school than it did when I was on the road.”
Dana Wylie performs October 6 at Parkdale Cromdale Community League (Edmonton).Dana Wylie, Parkdale Cromdale Community League