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            Unsayable, the fourth full-length release from Great Aunt Ida, borrows its title from Rilke’s “Ninth Elegy”, a poem about communicating the depths of human experience, as a touchstone for the album’s preoccupation with big feelings: the ones that have always been there and newer ones that come with age. The album’s nine songs were written over a period of six years, a timeline which took songwriter and pianist Ida Nilsen from a period of living in Detroit, in pursuit of some kind of 21st C dystopic American Dream, back to a Vancouver that, instead of being comfortably familiar, had become strange in her absence. Letting go of a place that no longer existed became part of a personal reckoning of past and present that put change in a new light and convinced Nilsen that it wasn’t too late to learn new things. A university degree in literature followed – for one who had previously only attended the school of the Sugar Refinery (a formative long-closed, much cherished, underground music venue), a multitude of new perspectives became visible, along with the tools to talk about them.

            The subject matter of Unsayable is not light – the songs’ characters struggle with betrayal, mental health, troubling relationships, the meaning of love, and the minefield zone between emotion and action. Musically, the album explores this darkness without melodrama; the rhythm section of Nilsen, on piano and Wurlitzer, with Vancouver veterans Mark Haney, on double bass, and Barry Mirochnick, on drums, settles into easy, laidback pockets that sometimes hint at falling apart but never do. Recorded at Afterlife, the old Mushroom Studios, with engineer John Raham, the sound is fleshed out with guitar parts by Jonathan Anderson and Dan Goldman, trumpet and effects by JP Carter, strings by Meredith Bates and Sarah Kwok, woodwinds by Krystal Morrison and Jennifer Vance, and background vocals by Mirochnick and Patsy Klein, players that come from roots, folk, improvised jazz, new music, and classical backgrounds. Accordingly, the album’s range of influences is expansive - “Horses” recalls the interplay of strings and pedal steel of late 70s era Neil Young, while other tracks would sound at home in New York’s Downtown jazz art-rock scene – yet the disparate styles find a coherence, in production and arrangement choices and Nilsen’s consistently unique melodicism, that gives Unsayable the flow of an album, rather than a collection of songs.

            Unsayable will be released digitally on September 7, 2021, the day Ida begins a master’s degree in architecture, timing that commemorates different sides of new developments in her artistic growth.





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