A self-described “soulful”  singer draws her inspiration from rock, folk, blues, soul and jazz

Jasmine Sealy

On Sunday May 17, Montreal-based singer/songwriter Ms. Homes will be launching her debut album ‘TEN’ at Casa del Popolo. CONTACT  spoke to Ms. Holmes about the decade-long journey that went into making the album, which serves as a very personal self-introduction.
Ms. Holmes moved to Montreal from BC, wooed by the city’s diversity and artistic culture. She felt she had real potential to make a career here, and she quickly fell in with a group of talented local musicians, one of whom, Félix Leclerc Prize-nominated Paul Cargnello, would go on to help produce her debut album. The songs on TEN, quite literally, span a decade. The oldest song on the album, Like I Do, is a cheeky expression of youthful independence. Some tracks adopt a more conversational tone, inviting the listeners to find bits of themselves in the moody refrains of a resigned romantic in Bye Bye Love and in the simmering resolve of a fed-up lover in ‘Double X’.
It is this kind of relatable introspection that helps Ms. Holmes’ music to straddle genres, being all at once folksy blues with the accessibility and radio-readiness of pop music. The album is also refreshingly lacking in over-production, having been recorded in just a few takes in a small home studio. Ms. Holmes credits these stripped down recording sessions, and the guiding hand of Paul Cargnello, with pushing her to provide some of her best vocal work to date on the album.
It is no doubt that Ms. Holmes profile is on the rise here in Montreal, she was recently listed in Cult MTL’s Best of Montreal list, under the categories of best solo act and best singer/songwriter and this Sunday’s album launch is sure to be a turning point in the artist’s career. For Ms. Holmes, it is these kinds of inspiring moments that push her to stick with it, and that assuage her artistic self-doubt. A highly self-critical artist, she is always looking to improve and branch out into new and unfamiliar genres. Ms. Holmes, a fan of diverse musicians ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Billie Holiday, draws her inspiration from rock, folk, blues, soul and jazz. She is a self-described “soulful” rather than “soul” singer and the complexity of TEN truly does defy any attempt to couch it in labels.

Next up for the Ms. Holmes? A summer touring around Canada followed by a journey that she has been looking forward to taking for a long time. She hopes to travel to the United States to reconnect with her father’s family and to get more in touch with her Jamaican roots. The album is a way for her to introduce herself to them, and to us, but also to protect herself, a time capsule that shows all she has accomplished as an artist, and that promises so much more to come.
Joined onstage by members of Nomadic Massive and a four piece band, Ms.Holmes launches her debut album ‘TEN’, Sunday May17th at Casa del Popolo. Tickets are $8 at the door or $15 including a copy of the album.
‘TEN’ is available online at iTunes and bandcamp as well as at some local record
stores including Phonopolis Records, Atom Heart and Beatnik Records.