Friday, 7 January 2022

Mini Album Review: Shine - Sue McBride

Sue McBride is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Halifax, Canada. Her music is both educational and entertaining, and succeeds in fusing elements of folk music with a Celtic twist. Her debut children's album, Shine, provides a masterclass in both musical dexterity and lyrical ingenuity; containing only six songs, the music keeps the listener constantly engaged, moving between different musical styles seamlessly. 

The album begins in fine form with the intriguing "Little Lighthouse", which is both catchy and upbeat. What sounds like a ukulele takes centre stage, accompanied by a brass section that adds both rhythm and melody to the track. Here, the artist takes the listener on an intrepid journey, where the one constant is the reliable little lighthouse, which continues to shine even through hazardous thunderstorms 'when the tall waves pounce'. The middle eight is particularly dramatic, with lyrics that describe how 'the fierce winds blow', accompanied by an experimental piano that reminded me a little of Mike Garcon.

"Canada" unfolds like a geography lesson, where the letters of the home country are spelt out in almost Aretha Franklin style. Here, the artist refers to her native country like a close friend in which 'the world loves you'. The acoustic guitar takes centre stage, with the somewhat saloon style vibe adding a certain exoticism to the track. Lyrically the song highlights aspects of Canadian identity including the national sport of ice hockey, the extremely cold weather and the contrasting languages, all celebrated under the maple leaf flag.

"Earth Is For You" benefits from a superb melody and some lively percussion, which tantalises the listener throughout. The lyrics emphasise how we are all connected to the earth, encouraging us to all play our part, including 'every bird every bee' and 'every tall oak tree'. The song also provides an absorbing melodic twist at the end with a thoughtful vocal round that concludes the song very effectively.

"Bubbles Bubbles" is more ambitious than its title would suggest, and features an array of alluring sound effects that continue to surprise. The arrangement becomes increasingly complex as the song progresses, utilising sound effects that sound almost galactic at times. The song is really quite extraordinary, with each verse attempting a different rhythmic approach, and further experimenting with different instrumentation. Its restless energy and complex arrangement reminded me a little of "Strawberry Fields Forever".

"Canoe Song/Land Of The Silver Birch" features what sounds like a cello, and an acoustic guitar combining to create this sumptuous feast of melody. There are also some interesting vocal patterns used here, the emotional impact of which reminded me a little of "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush. Here the artist gives us a glimmer of her influences, through a glimpse of the natural world, where nature appears to work in harmony with the music. Like many of her songs, the sheer depth of musical texture leaves the impression that the artist is experimenting with a variety of ingredients in order to come up with the perfect combination of sounds.

Last but by no means least "The Alphabet" takes us into jazz territory with a lively piano and an interesting trumpet competing for space. Another educational song, with an interesting interpretation of the alphabet, which I'm sure the kids will love. The musicianship is superb, and although I don't have the sleeve notes, I am reliably informed that the artist is something of a multi-instrumentalist. If this is indeed her playing, than clearly we are talking about a significant talent here

All in all, a fine selection of songs, which are original, engaging and superbly executed. This eclectic sequence of songs blend together perfectly, with their sheer depth of musical texture providing additional impact to the overall sound. The musicianship is superb throughout, and the songs are arranged with considerable expertise. The major strength of the album is the way in which the artist stirs the emotions through the divine combination of absorbing lyrics and delightful melodies. There is considerable ambition here in both execution and delivery, and I suggest you check this exciting new artist out at your earliest opportunity.

Sue McBride - there is a light that never goes out.


  1. Wow...thanks for this great review! It means a lot to me, xo. This album was truly a work of love! - Sue McBride