One Track Mind: Canary, “Let Down Your Guard” (2013)

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After releasing two EPs, Canary has gotten it gender-bending brand of blues-rocking menace down to a coiled science. Take “Let Down Your Guard,” a track that first hits you in the solar plexus – and then with a wily left hook.

Canary starts with a pounding opening cadence, then piles on a grungy riff — something, thus far, that’s straight out of the Stevie Ray Vaughan playbook. But vocalist Naomi Gillies, this five-piece’s female lead, adds a new wrinkle to things when she takes over the mic, not so much leavening that impending sense of danger as giving it new depth. A male voice offering the same entreaty to let down your guard might have seemed brutish. Instead, Gillies purrs with a black widow’s dark intrigue.

All the while, the rest of the group continues building on Amy Mantis’ sawing guitar riff, beginning with the relentless assault from the drums and bass. Alex Hartley rounds out Canary on keyboards, though — quite frankly — his contributions are largely lost in the swirling maelstrom surrounding Gillies. Mantis’ solo is a wonder of molten frustration, perfectly echoing the lyric’s edgy intent. And when Gillies returns, it’s with a howling aggression.

It’s impossible to look away, much less run. Canary, which has already opened for Jackson Browne while playing shows through Texas and the Northeast, has you right where they want you.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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