Jennifer Castle

(Toronto, ON)

At 18, Jennifer Castle bought an acoustic guitar and left Ontario, travelling across the ocean to London. A year and a half at Bunjies, a basement tavern that hosted a vibrant folk scene, left the imprint of the British folk tradition on her songwriting; you can hear it in the pastoral imagery of her lyrics and in the crispness and clarity of her melodies. When Castle returned to Toronto, the Tranzac Club — a hub of experimentation and improvisation seemingly as distant from Bunjies stylistically as it is geographically — coloured her work, too, in arrangements and song structures that defy convention. Folk tradition rarely leaves room for surprise, but in Castle's hands it doesn't have that problem. She has collaborated with trad-country artists and post-hardcore bands, with visual artists and modern- dance choreographers, and her songs have been featured in films by Atom Egoyan and Bruce LaBruce. Castle has described her music as “unsettling” — not in the sense of dark and disturbing, but more literally: her songs flirt with country and folk traditions but embrace unusual arrangements and instrumentation. They speak elliptically about large issues and small moments. But they don't settle. PH

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