Photo by Valery Gore
A funny thing keeps happening to Toronto’s Valery Gore: as she moves further from the classical training she received as a student, she feels better able to express herself. “It’s a free for all!” she explained a few years ago. “I can play whatever I want and if I like it, it sticks.” Perhaps that freedom is an expression of her love for jazz as well, where composition is secondary to feel and improvisation.
Gore is patient with her music–her last album came out in 2008–but that patience is a result of not wanting to repeat herself. She burst onto the scene with the self-produced Avalanche To Wandering Bears, with many Canadian outlets hailing it as one of the year’s best. The symphonic pop on the record unravels in interesting ways, showing a songwriter who wants to surprise herself as much as her listener.
On September 9, Gore returns with Idols In The Dark Heart, an album marked by her careful experimentation. “Amsterdam” sounds like three songs packed into one, marrying a trip-hop atmosphere to Gore’s remarkable voice. Her closest contemporary might be Fiona Apple, another songwriter who likes to inject her melodies with high drama. Yet even with the careful braininess of the composition, “Amsterdam” is simply a great song–no classical training needed.