I first saw Megan Nash perform with Pandacorn — once at the Dodger in Regina and again at a Ness Creek after party in 2014. I was entranced not only by the band as a whole (I could write about Pandacorn for pages), but in particular by the dichotomy between Megan’s musical ferocity and playfulness. It is the blending of contrasting traits that gives her such an incredible sound and it’s hiding in every corner of this record.
Song Harvest: Volume One was recorded live off the floor in a hundred-year-old church in Palmer, SK. Just Megan, her electric guitar, and the thoughtful design of her music within those confines. It’s nine songs of prairie longing. It’s dusty summer nights and wondering if you said the right thing. It makes me miss someone even though I don’t know who that someone is yet.
It would be easy for a singer like Megan to rely on the sweetness of her voice and the gentle simplicity of her guitar to draw our attention to her thoughtfully written songs, but instead of sticking solely to the most easily digestible and understandable of sounds, Megan dares to expand her sonic palette to carefully paint the songs she has so beautifully built. Each song features subtle changes in her guitar tone, from the slappy spring reverb of “Deer Head” to the gentle, burbling fuzz of “Wait.” As you listen to this album, pay attention to the voice and the words. But don’t forget about the guitar.
I’d be kidding myself if I thought I didn’t have to talk about her voice, but the trouble is it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what she’s doing. I’d like to be able to write a pithy little sentence in parallel structure about how each song uses a particular vocal approach, but the truth is that Megan uses all aspects of her voice at all times, as required by the lyrics of the song. Her voice will move from gentle whispers and croaks to a howl that’d be at home atop a prairie butte within a phrase if the words call for it. The overall effect causes the whole record to sound like it’s about to bust apart, every vocal phrase taking you either closer to or further away from a storm that’s about to break.
The Stand Out:
To me the record sounds like it’s about people. You could say it’s about love, but I think the words go deeper than that. It’s about who’s doing the loving. It’s timid and humble that she asks “would you want to try?” in my favourite tune on the record (Try) and it’s so human and painfully beautiful that she pleads it again and again, withholding but eventually surrendering, “with someone like me?” This song stands out to me not only because if its wall-to-wall solid musical construction but also its vulnerability. It’s not a song about just wanting love. It’s a song about wanting a particular someone, and wanting that someone to want you. Or at least take the chance. That’s a human experience anyone can identify with.
There is so much about this record that provokes something in me. Not in an inflammatory way, but in a way that gently demands my attention, because deep down I know I’m going to love what comes next. There are some records that tuck you into bed and let you rest, but this is one that keeps you up at night with a coffee and a notebook.
Megan Performs next at The Artesian in Regina for Red Hot Riot, December 18th.