With a rawer and more modern sound, Move Away, Bobby Bazini’s fourth album, is his most daring and personal one. No frills or production this time, and, most importantly, a body of songs that perfectly express his moods. The compositions have become deeper, the sound has grown richer, and, in short, there’s a fresh wind of renewal without any sampling, or other “canned” sounds. The album’s 13 songs form a compact, unstoppable suite of well-crafted arrangements.

“I need to travel before writing an album,” says Bazini. “That’s an essential source of inspiration for me. Much thought was given to the past 10 years in preparation for the writing of these songs. My life had been an unending race. That was an important journey, because expectations have always been high.”

Early in Bazini’s career, the French magazine Paris Match published an article on him, headlining that “the next Céline Dion is a man.” That’s where it all began, Bazini says today. And there was also comedian Louis-José Houde’s joke as he hosted the ADISQ Awards a few years ago: “Break out, Bobby, break out!” Bazini adds with a laugh.

“As I was not to work with any producer this time, the person responsible for the project was me,” Bazini explains. “I worked with other artists in the early stages to get the songwriting off the ground. We had a stock of some 60 songs. On the demos, I also played drums, bass and keyboards. At the end of the day, all the co-writers of these 13 songs also are the album’s de facto co-producers.”

In London,  celebrated British producer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga), and the Brazilian musician Pedro Vito (who worked on four of Bazini’s songs), were his creative partners. “I also wanted to use strings, so we called on Davide Rossi (Coldplay, Alicia Keys), and the whole thing has been really stimulating.”

Move Away is replete with ballads that hark back to classic soul music — one immediately thinks of Al Green, and there’s a little something that betrays the year of manufacture… A display of references that are too visible, maybe? Not in the least! Bazini avoided slipping on the banana peel of that stereotypical, “oh-so-’60s”  sound.

Bazini’s whisky voice rules, moving from one song to the next without ever becoming intoxicating. There are also organ and choir passages, and the interplay of these varied voices breathes air into the music while containing the atmosphere.

“I’ve been going to London since 2015, and I’ve always been interested in the old-school sound of white British singers [the likes of James Hunter, for one],” he says. “The drum tracks of these British producers are very much ‘front and centre,’ like on Adele’s recordings, and I like that production approach very much. The title song, ‘Move Away,’ was written with Vito in mind: following his dreams to Europe. Personally, I would have written it in 4/4, but he did it in 6/8, so it’s much more rhythmic, and you can hear it on the recording.”

“Then I moved to Berlin to be able to continue my collaboration with him, because he lives there, and I like the quality of his writing,” Bazini continues. “We recorded Some & Others in Berlin. From the studio where I was, I could see how grey that city was. The studio was cold and old, and the heating was provided by a tiny radiator. And there was a 5:00 p.m. curfew, so we couldn’t waste any time!”

Obviously, working in this open-pit mine of super-catchy tunes hasn’t been a breeze, but on this album, Bazini hitting the nail on the head, piece after piece, without ever easing up.

To complete the picture, Bazini travelled to the Los Angeles, where he’d worked at the start of his career, in order to polish his recordings. This time, however, the producers weren’t the same. Studio time was booked at the request of Universal, his record company. These sessions have a more pop sound, and “Choose You,” the album’s second track, is the perfect illustration: “I wanted to try new things, to move out of my comfort zone,” Bazini explains.

While Bazini no longer had the wind in his sails following management changes, this new album is a first step toward his true identity. Who cares if the world has changed around him? Here’s the elegant Bazini in top shape.


Got a gypsy soul, I’m a rebel and rogue
And I’m always on the run
With a fire inside I ain’t ever gonna die
I’m a locked and loaded gun

– “Outlaws & Outsiders”

After a country-rock song you wrote surpasses 25 million cumulative streams worldwide, a move to Music City, where the heart of the industry lives, might feel like the logical next step.

Not for Cory Marks. Despite “Outlaws & Outsiders” reaching Top 10 on rock radio South of the border – and peaking at No. 3 in Germany – the songwriter is content to stay close to home. He lives in Sturgeon Falls (population 6,798), 39 km West, along the Trans-Canada Highway, from his hometown of North Bay. This fact is no surprise. As “Outlaws & Outsiders” suggests, Marks writes songs filled with truths learned from his rural upbringing. At heart, he, too, is an outsider.

“A lot of my songwriting is based on real and honest things that have happened to me, or close to me,” he says. “I would much rather write a true story – and [have] my own story really resonate – than create one with five or six other writers in a room with the hopes of a big hit. I always try to keep it real that way.”

Catching up with the songwriter on an autumn afternoon finds Marks enjoying time at home, writing more songs (he figures he probably has close to 50 set aside for his next record), hitting the gym, and finishing the requirements to obtain his private pilot’s license.

“Outlaws & Outsiders” started as simply a cool title for the cross-Canada tour Marks did with Aaron Pritchett five years ago. Canadian country radio is where the songwriter would love to land, but like the song’s title, he’s an outlier. His sound isn’t poppy enough to fit the mainstream mold. “I feel like I’m a country artist, first and foremost,” he says. “I want to give country radio something different for the fans and for the genre.”

“Country music needs change, and I want to be that change”

Before the song’s global success, the journey to 25 million streams started in Las Vegas in the fall of 2015. Marks joined Kevin Churko at the eight-time JUNO nominee’s studio, The Hideout. The pair wrote the bones for “Outlaws and Outsiders” in less than a day. Churko then used his influence to land some heavy-hitter guests: veteran country music icon Travis Tritt, Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch, and Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe.

With or without the support of Canadian country radio, Marks will stay true to the outlaws and outsiders who inspired him: from Hank Williams to Buck Owens, Willie to Waylon, and Steve Earle to Sturgill Simpson. Growing up in North Bay, the artist was an aspiring hockey player, and picked up the drums as his first instrument. His dad turned him on to these country legends, and he simultaneously discovered hard rock, becoming a fan of bands like Rush, Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, and Deep Purple.

“It’s unfortunate for artists like myself, with more of a rock edge, that we don’t often get the respect from the country establishment,” he says. “Country music needs change, and I want to be that change.”

Sno Babies Synch
As if the streaming success of “Outlaws & Outsiders” wasn’t enough, Marks also landed a synch with the song in Sno Babies (2020) – an independent film that looks at the dark realities of addiction. Better Noise Music, Marks’ label, produced the film, and the soundtrack, and felt his song fit well with the theme. “To watch the movie unfold, and have your song come on, that was such a cool moment,” he says. “As an artist, you dream of having a hit on the radio, but getting one of your creations featured in a film is also an incredible honor.” Come 2021, Marks’ song “Blame It on the Double” is set to appear in another Better Noise Films feature, The Retaliators.

Famously hailing from Steeltown, Hamilton-honed electronic pop star Jessy Lanza is currently Zooming in from her treehouse recording studio in Redwood City, on the outskirts of Silicon Valley. While that jumble of imagery may seem discordant, it’s also a decent encapsulation of Lanza’s music. Juxtaposing dark lyricism and honeyed vocals with calmly euphoric computer beats and an earthy authenticity, her new album has been a much-needed balm.

“I feel really stressed most of the time, even when I don’t have anything to be stressed about — and that makes me feel really guilty, like, what’s wrong with me that I can’t be appreciative? Now, in a time when I really do have something to cry about, it seems suitable,” says Lanza. “It makes me happy to think that people could listen to the album and feel better.”

“It’s funny, because I thought this year, I would be back on track”

How she wound up surrounded by Ewok forests discussing All the Time, her latest longplayer for U.K. imprint Hyperdub, is (like all stories nowadays) a plague tale. Lanza actually moved South a few years ago —setting up shop in Queens, New York while touring her presciently titled 2016 album Oh No — but was on a pre-release European run when the world fell apart.

“We played a show in Switzerland,” she recalls. “The Alps were separating Italy from St. Gallen, where we were, but they were obviously freaked out. They were making people show IDs at the door to keep people who might be Italian out. That was the first indication that this isn’t normal and is going to get pretty bad.”

They made it back stateside, but having booked a suddenly-cancelled tour from early April in L.A to October in Montréal, Lanza had let her lease expire. With New York collapsing under COVID, Lanza and her partner fled in their van, driving cross-country to take refuge with his parents in northern California. (The van would later be iconically re-purposed for her Boiler Room set.)

All the Time was already “mixed, mastered and ready to go,” so while the rollout went awry, the record was only delayed until late July. If it sounds a little different from past releases, that’s not the pandemic, but because it was the first record Lanza did long-distance, with longtime Hamilton collaborator, Juniors Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan. “It was kind of weird to work [like that] because I’m so used to us being super-close, but it was fun,” she says, adding she still drove back and forth from New York to Hamilton each month.

She was also influenced by the artists she met in New York – “I didn’t feel so cloistered away this time around,” she says – and the creative opportunities that come with being far from home. “I did a lot more on my own,” she adds. “Setting up my studio how I like it, and just experimenting.”

Lanza also got bolder lyrically, dissecting her cynicism and emotional distress, and even putting them in the liner notes, despite how vulnerable that made her feel.

“I felt like such a mess the past few years, and it’s funny, because I thought this year, I would be back on track,” she laughs sardonically. “But it’s a good lesson. You can make all kinds of plans: I’m going to put out this album, and I’m going to tour, and I’m going to like feel normal again. And that couldn’t be further from reality.”

But, she adds, “so much of my music is about feeling rejected and not being good enough. It’s such a loud feeling for a lot of people. [All the Time] is an effort to quiet it for myself — and I hope that it would work for others while they’re listening.”