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Volume 90, Issue 94

Friday, March 21, 1997



Out of town intensity

©Marko Shark/Hype Music Publicity
KARI TOWNSEND. This London-based performer will play The Fiji Islander at The Wave tomorrow.

By Mike Gallay
Gazette Staff

Over the past several years, the music industry has taken lengths to propel female talent to the forefront of popular culture. Canada alone has produced such luminaries as Celine Dion, Sarah MacLachlan and that jagged little pill.

Looks like it's time for another. Newcomer Kari Townsend, armed with a tastefully mercurial vocal attack, and flanked by an interpretive supporting band, has put together a collection of melodic vignettes on her debut release, Postcard Blue.

The album's cover, case and booklet are drenched with striking deep blue butterflies. When asked about the significance of the butterfly, and the album's curious title, Townsend's response is equally unexpected.

"I was looking for something that embodied that colour – postcard blue. You know how when you go on vacation, postcards always have an incredibly intense blue sky?" she says. "I was walking one day in a district in England where it's usually raining and there was this intense blue sky. The phrase just literally popped into my head."

And the butterflies?

"I ended up going home and writing a song called 'Postcard Blue' and I liked the description so much, I wanted to find something on earth to embody that colour," says Townsend. A friend of mine who had been in Belize had brought me a photograph of this incredible blue morph butterfly. Immediately when I saw it I said 'that's it.' That's postcard blue."

Townsend, a former Western student, has spent the past seven years in London. But in her own words she "actually grew up coast to coast in Canada; so I'm really from everywhere." Her continental background has translated into diverse inspirations. But the eclectic nature of her arrangements can also be attributed to the wide range of instruments she has studied.

"I played a lot of different instruments when I was growing up," she says. "When we were moving across the country, essentially every time we would move my parents would introduce me to a new instrument. I played everything from violin and guitar to flute and piano."

Due to the growing number of solo female artists, Townsend knows she is bound to be compared to her contemporaries. "I get compared a lot to Sarah MacLachlan, Margo Timmons and sometimes Sinead O'Connor."

On Postcard Blue, Townsend has blended an eclectic mix of flowing, almost string-like compositions, with pared-down folk rock. All the while, she maintains the movement and groove that keeps the songs interesting and appealing. Morrisette-ness might not happen with this album, but her star is rising.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997