Evangeline Gentle: Evangeline Gentle (Sonic Unyon) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, November 23rd, 2020  

Evangeline Gentle

Evangeline Gentle

Sonic Unyon

Nov 05, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


A year on from its Canadian release, Evangeline Gentle’s self-titled album is finally seeing the wider world. The queer Scottish-Canadian began writing the songs that would make up their debut album at 19. Four years later, at 23, the resulting record is a loving document of Gentle’s coming-of-age, displaying an inviting open-heartedness and bright-eyed hope that looks first and foremost to find good in this world. 

The particular intersection of genres Gentle creates in is well established, bringing in tones of singer/songwriter, folk, and Americana. Fortunately, Gentle’s thoughtful lyrics, powerful and fervent vocals, and lovingly arranged instrumentals all set them apart from your standard coffeehouse fare. The opener, “Drop My Name” is an especially strong introduction to Gentle’s independent style and strength of spirit. It is one of the more forceful songs on the record lyrically but stays restrained instrumentally, letting Gentle’s stirring vibrato drive the track. Gentle sings lines such as “I’m nobody’s toy/I’m nobody’s second-best” with a sense of conviction that gives the track just the kick it needs to stand out.

Despite the unwavering independence of the opener, Gentle’s music lives up to their surname on this record with a consistently warm and inviting tone. They show an affinity for beautiful love songs on “Sundays” and  “Neither of Us,” painting lovesick portraits of young romance. Hearing Gentle sing of waltzing down grocery aisles with their partner can likely thaw the coldest hearts, but Gentle also provides equal time to love’s valleys. “Even If” puts Gentle in the shoes of the rambling barfly as they recount a lost love singing, “Lust is almost always never love/Even if she’s everything/Everything your dreams have been made of.” They follow with “So It Goes,” which evokes Carole King with its vintage singer/songwriter style, modernized with a hint of electronic percussion. The track is an equally lovelorn tribute to fond memories as Gentle questions, “Do you think of me when Springsteen is on the radio?/Do you think of me when leaves canopy the patio?”

Where the album truly is at its best, though, is when Gentle turns their attention outside the world of love and loss. With “Ordinary People” Gentle bemoans the harshness of the world, resolving to stay hopeful. They sing, “I've been feeling afraid and lonely/But I don't ever want fear to own me/I want an open heart/Capable of loving fearlessly.” Later, on “The Strongest People Have Tender Hearts” they turn their eye towards consumer culture and toxic masculinity with an equally gentle tone. Backed by a soulful acoustic waltz they sing, “There must be better values to teach/Graciousness is where to start/When the strongest men I know have tender hearts.” That unguarded optimism and unwillingness to be hardened by the world makes the record a welcome respite from this year’s unrelenting trials. 

Although Gentle could commit further into this direction, much of the album treads more conventional lyrical territory. This can leave the record with perhaps less focus and less to say than Gentle seems capable of. Even so, as a debut, Evangeline Gentle is an admirable effort marked by Gentle’s immaculate vocals and heartfelt lyrical approach. It positions them as a conscious and gifted lyricist whose warmhearted style belies a vulnerable strength. (www.evangelinegentlemusic.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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