That Carolyn Mark doesn’t have more acclaim is a shock, as her wordplay and tone are unique tools that she uses to employ character and mood better than most Canadian songwriters. Mark’s sense of humour permeates many of the songs, giving her more definition than your typical singer-songwriter. At times, it does verge on being a little too clever, as in the track “Nobody(‘s Perfect),” which describes the virtues of being alone: “after nobody makes me dinner, nobody is waiting for me in bed…nobody’s perfect for me.” Despite this, even tracks like this are a fun listen, even if it does make you somewhat conscious of the fact that someone wrote this song.
There’s a lot of reflection in those roles as Mark filters them through the lens of a performer in these songs. “Poor Farmers” itself is a mis-hear of “performers.” “The Queen of Vancouver Island” details part of the writing process, and how “everyone just wants to sing along!” She writes in “The Cereal is the Prize” of how “maybe tomorrow I’ll sit down and write the third verse and it’ll sell a million copies and I’ll buy a house with insulation.” The two concluding songs – “Old Whores” and “You’re Not a Whore (if no one’s paying)” are reflective tracks, with the first noting that “we started out with dreams of perfection and no compromises (we weren’t always old whores).” The final track seems to be about prostitution, or working in the music business, which may or may not be the same thing in her eyes. We start with a queen and end with a whore. Through these characters, Carolyn Mark is able to craft a thoughtful, funny, touching album that is simultaneously contemplative and fun. This is folk music done right, by one of Canada’s best, most unsung talents. (Mint Records, mintrecs.com) Devin King