We’ll Look for Stars (Continental Record Services)
Ottawa’s Lynn Miles has long known that life is a dichotomous affair—pain and glory in the same moment, dead ends and fresh possibilities at every turn—and that we spend much of our time aiming for the good stuff but winding up enmeshed in the bad.
We’ll Look for Stars, Miles’s 15th album and among her best to date, continues that exploration of dichotomies with all the empathy, dark humour, and occasional snarl that has made her such an acclaimed singer/songwriter.
In Merle, a slow-dance tribute to country musician Merle Haggard, who died in 2016, she sings that Haggard had a, “heartache voice and twinkling eye”.
In the title track, accompanied by just a piano, she reminds us that, “We think we’re made of steel, we’re made of tin”.
And in the final cut, Because We Love, which opens with orchestration and closes with sonic starkness, Miles affirms that we, “breathe because we love / Grieve because we love”.
As always in Miles’s albums, there are brave people here, folks who, like the deeply wounded woman in She Drinks, soldier on long after the battle’s been lost. There are also those without whom the world might be a better place, people like the rapacious captains of commerce who, in the rocking Main Street, gobble up all the mom-and-pop stores that once made a town a town (that’s where Miles’s snarl comes in).
Miles is too smart to go searching for easy answers in a world as complicated and conflicted as ours but she does know that looking for stars is what we do, even if those stars are forever beyond our grasp.