Damhnait Doyle – Liquor Store Flowers

Damhnait Doyle - Liquor Store FlowersDamhnait Doyle is a name you may recall from the explosion of singer/songwriters who emerged in the mid-to-late 90s. Hits like A List Of Things, Tattooed and Another California Song made her a brief staple on Canadian radio before putting her solo career on the back burner to join forces with Kim Stockwood and Tara MacLean to form the trio Shaye on a pair of albums in the 2000s, and heading up the Toronto-based rock band The Heartbroken in the 2010s. In 2008, she released an album of jazz-flavoured covers of 70s to 90s pop and rock classics.

This year, the Labrador-born singer put out her first solo album of original material in 16 years, an album that is unapologetically authentically Damhnait. She doesn’t mince words when she sings about exes, politics and other life experiences that most would avoid completely.

The album stays in the realm of country-flavoured rock as she’s joined by an impressive list of collaborators such as Serena Ryder, Gordie Sampson, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and former Shaye bandmates Kim Stockwood and Tara McLean who provide co-writes and backing vocals throughout the record.

She waivers on the topic of love and relationships, showing patience on the title track where she offers one more chance to someone who isn’t deserving. On This Ain’t My Sin, she sings about new beginnings after a relationship that has long run its course. “Don’t go asking me to stay/You gotta know you made it this way/I gave everything I had/Now that it’s gone I want it back.”

She dives into deeper territory on the ballad Shoot To Miss, from the perspective of a father whose daughter is in an abusive relationship: “Well you boy, you picked the wrong girl/Cause you also got this man,” and Better Life, from the perspective of a birth-mother to the son she gave up for adoption.

The most heart-wrenching moment comes with Missed Call, about a friend who died by suicide whose calls for help she missed. As the song progresses, her vocals gradually soften almost to a whisper at points, “I wish I would have known/But you can’t tell/By the sound of the ring/It’s a cry for help.”

Co-produced with musician John Dinsmore, Liquor Store Flowers is a gritty, blunt, no-nonsense record that sticks to the point without bells and whistles or rose-coloured glasses. The lyrics are raw and sometimes cut-throat but the true magic comes through Doyle’s vocals, which remain distinctively sweet but dominant.

It’s a record set with no expectations, is free-flowing and honest without a need to satisfy anyone but herself, which makes it the very type of album worth listening to because it’s completely of the artist.

Four stars

Check out: Missed Call, Liquor Store Flowers, Time Bomb

1. That’s What You Get
2. This Ain’t My Sin
3. Missed Call
4. Shoot To Miss
5. So Clean
6. Birthday Parties
7. Liquor Store Flowers
8. Better Life
9. 21 Days
10. Time Bomb
11. Had To Have Him

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