But if you see me out, know I'm the coolest fucking bitch in town, sings Haley Blais on her self-effacing first single about acting like you've got it all together while being an emotional wreck. The song is a defining track from her recently released album Wisecrack. Funny and raw at the same time. Tongue-in-cheek lines like I want my therapist to think I'm cool give the melancholic mood a biting edge.
All of Wisecrack is like this: textured and wryly poetic, oscillating somewhere between a cherished childhood memory and the creation of a new self. Concerned with conscience, morality, "being stuck between two mindsets" — the old self and what the future holds — and the superego. It's "bleak but true," as Blais puts it. "Am I a good person or not? Are we all doing okay? Am I a good daughter? Sister? Partner? Friend?" The existential, everyday worries we all contain but rarely share are laid bare across eleven songs exquisitely performed with profundity, grace, and humour.
Conceived as a conceptual piece about the formation of new families amidst the dissolution of her parents' relationship, Wisecrack is more mature, confessional, focused, and darker, than anything Blais has yet produced.
The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter started developing a community and fanbase as a teenager almost a decade ago with her diaristic YouTube videos and tender ukulele covers. Since then, Blais, who sang classical opera for ten years, traded in the solo ukulele for a guitar and a five-piece band. In 2020, Blais released a debut full-length album of jangly pop anthems, Below the Salt, produced with indie staples Tennis and Louise Burns, featuring the vocally powerful, complex slow-burn favourite "Be Your Own Muse." The self-released Below the Salt amassed millions of streams and avid support from publications like NPR, NYLON, and i-D and led to a North American tour with Peach Pit and headline tours throughout North America, Europe and the UK. Now signed to iconic indie label Arts & Crafts, Blais released her sophomore record Wisecrack in the fall of 2023.
Raised on the outskirts of a Texas city, now living in Philadelphia, Grace Gardner is pushing the boundaries of the singer/songwriter genre. While her music adopts many of the genre’s characteristics, she’s found inspiration in her parents’ taste in 70s and 80s rock, in the folk roots of her southern upbringing, and in the indie-storytelling she found herself returning to most. Taking it one step further: producing all of her own music allows Grace to maintain a personal, authentic touch in each of her pieces. Her lyricism is evocative and emotional, poignantly penning about the joys and tribulations in relationships, in recovery, and in her identity — typically backdropped by fingerpicked acoustic guitar and intricate production.
Her inspirations are eclectic powerhouse writers from the 1970s — Carole King, Stevie Nicks, and Joni Mitchell are her “Big 3.” As Grace started honing in on her own musical style, finding the intersection between soft rock, indie, and folk, she’s taken even more inspiration from artists like Samia, Olivia Barton, and Madison Cunningham. Grace plays ten instruments and uses orchestral, brass, percussive, and software-based elements in her works. Along with being a singer, songwriter, and instrument player, Grace is also a producer and arranger.
Grace’s debut EP, Peach, was released in March 2023, featuring the lead single, “Deny Me.” She’s joined emerging indie artists Ella Jane, Adam Melchor, and Tiny Habits on their tours last year. This year she joins Hans Williams, Shallow Alcove, and embarks on a headline tour. Grace’s sophomore EP, “Recovery Mile,” is due in February 2024, preceded by a track and music video for the single “Lubbock” in January.