( Calgary, AB/Iceland) 

Accepting that Reykjavik, Iceland is a magical place is no great leap. Remote and starkly beautiful, its chief export is musicians so otherworldly that they could come out as elves without anyone batting an eye. Saying the same of Calgary is a stretch. Magical isn't the first word that comes to mind, even for the city's most ardent boosters. But there are glimmers, hidden in house shows and handmade zines, taking root in urban redevelopment and sprawling suburbs. It's there, almost despite itself. It may not have been inevitable for the two cities to reach out to one another, but it does feel surprisingly natural. EMBASSYLIGHTS is an intermingling of four of Calgary's most fearless songwriters—Mark Andrew Hamilton, Laura Leif, Samantha Savage Smith and Clinton St. John—with emerging Reykjavik songwriters Benni Hemm Hemm and Prins Póló. Despite the distances involved, all of the artists sound equally at home, as if they’ve found a space where the cities overlap. They sing songs and swap instruments, follow tangents and find new perspectives, and the result is magical: quiet introspection interspersed with joyful bombast, sprightly indie-pop and campfire folk. It's the sound of an unlikely partnership, discovering an unexpected common ground. PH

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