“Evangeline Gentle's self-titled album is a triumph” – Exclaim!
“Evangeline Gentle's voice communicates an aching warmth that comes with knowing hardness and choosing softness instead.… every time I listen to the record, I'm blown away anew by their songwriting and the space they're carving out across multiple genres — indie pop, alt-folk, singer-songwriter — in a way that feels effortless” – CBC Music
“A talent to be watched carefully. Gentle's voice grabs you instantly with its purity and expressiveness” – FYI Music
Today, Canadian songwriter Evangeline Gentle marks the international release of their self-titled debut album via Sonic Unyon Records The album is accompanied by the release of a lyric video for focus track "The Strongest People Have Tender Hearts". The video was directed and edited by longtime collaborator Rob Viscardis, who has teamed with Gentle on videos for "So It Goes", "Sundays", "Ordinary People", "You and I" and "Black is the Colour". The reel features bittersweet flashback footage from Gentle's pre-pandemic UK tour in early 2020.
"I wrote this song at the dawn of the #MeToo movement,” says Gentle. "I was trying to find ways to responsibly process a lot of the anger that I was feeling, and tried to write from the most compassionate place I could. I spent a long time with this song because the lyrics were emotionally challenging to write. I was thinking about the way we devalue femininity and how it contributes to gender-based violence, and about the insatiable pursuit of happiness through consumerism. I came to the conclusion that I can’t control the behaviour of others, but I can control my own… and that 'graciousness is where to start' if I’d like the world to be a kinder place."
In celebration of the album's international release, the artist has also announced a special online release concert with full band backing, taking place Sat Sept 5 at 6pm EDT. The show reunites Gentle with drummer Matt Greco, bassist Derek Bell, and guitarist Nick Ferrio for the first time in months. The performance, the first show the band has played together since before pandemic lockdown, will feature the debut of new material. The concert, which will take place live at Hamilton, Ontario multi-arts venue Mills Hardware, will also be the first full-length concert (albeit private) the venue has hosted in almost half a year. This special set, performed in front of a small and exclusive audience of friends and family, is being produced by Sonic Unyon in conjunction with Dan Mangan's Side Door Concerts. Tickets are now available via Side Door.
The album's ten tracks are rich, sweet, and lush with vibrato – only a few of the unmistakable qualities that constitute Gentle’s fervent timbre. Produced by Jim Bryson (Kathleen Edwards, Kalle Mattson, The Skydiggers) and mastered by Grammy -nominated Philip Shaw Bova (Bahamas, Feist), their songwriting on the album possesses an authenticity and depth as rare and unique as the artist's own journey. Born on the northeast coast of Scotland, Gentle has live performance in their blood and was given an unequivocal name for the stage too.
Gentle began writing their debut album over the course of three years, collaborating with Bryson and slowly working on demos together. “During the writing years I trudged my way through deep periods of self-doubt, often wondering if I should quit music entirely,” says Gentle. “I’ve been in love with music my whole life. Somewhere along the way I internalized a lot of messaging about my queerness as being something that would hold me back, something that made me inherently less gifted and valuable as an artist, that I wasn’t enough for the industry and my spirit got broken. Each song on this record is a step toward re-establishing this spirit. I dream like a child again.”
Recorded at Bryson’s Fixed Hinge studio together with percussionists Pascal Delaquis and Matthew Greco, and vocalist Carleigh Aikins, the process for the LP began with tracks “So It Goes”, a nostalgic retelling of Gentle’s last teenage years, and confessional “Even If”, documenting an unhealthy relationship and distressing breakup.
Album opener “Drop My Name” was born out of working at a corporate fast food chain on top of another day job to try and earn enough money to make this album, but quickly evolved into being about all the times the artist felt taken advantage of, pivoting to a message of self-empowerment. "It’s about reclaiming power through understanding that other people don’t determine our worth,” says Gentle. The album’s second track, “Ordinary People”, returns to that theme and pays tribute to the family, friendship and community that can anchor us and serve as an antidote to a hard, doom-scrolling world
Lead single “Sundays” and album track “Neither of Us” are love songs written around a common theme of being compassionate with someone’s insecurities and affirming that they are more than enough. As its title suggests, “Long Time Love” is also a love song, but one about the moment where a crush resolves into a mature commitment and you realize the person who has stepped into your life is going to stick around: "Trust is a scary thing/But neither of us are running."
The album rounds out with self-sabotage meditation “Digging My Grave” and “Good and Guided”, a song based on the “idea that we’re all trying our best to be good people with the information and experiences we have in the moment,” says Gentle. “That’s an idealistic view of the world, but it’s a spiritual one that I cling to in order to get through the day and stay open to connecting with life around me.”
Gentle’s recent You and I, an a cappella double-single released May 22, 2020, was recorded live-to-tape and mixed by Luke Schindler at Toronto’s Revolution Recording in mid-March, a week before the world began going into lockdown. The single has served as a striking introduction to the artist in advance of the international release of their full-length album.
At only 23 years of age, Evangeline’s accolades are already accumulating at an impressive rate. Touted by CBC Music as one of “Seven exciting Canadian artists who broke out in 2019”, awarded Emerging Artist at the 2015 Peterborough Folk Fest, and Best Female Vocalist of the year at the 2015 Wire Awards, they have shared stages with artists such as Basia Bulat, Craig Cardiff, Matt Andersen, Terra Lightfoot, and Sam Weber.