The race for song of the summer feels like it’s heating up this week as several Halifax musicians drop new singles eligible for the crown. No matter if your tastes skew from country to pop to rock, the city’s songwriters have your back—and ears—this week, so get your air pods in:
Rocker Adam Baldwin is known for a style indebted to Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen. On his new song, “The Causeway Road”, though, he slows it all down to addictive results. The tune’s creative origins almost sound like a creative writing exercise: On an Instagram post announcing the track, Baldwin talks about seeing an abandoned boat on a stretch of sand that’s long served as an inspiration. Here, he makes the lyrical best of hyperlocal folklore, a salt water-sprayed, not-quite-true-crime confessional that feels like a lost Nebraska B-side.
Halifax reggae royalty Jah’Mila switches up her genre—but not her prowess—on “Soul Is High”, a two-song release that sees her collaborate with local house legends Pineo & Loeb and Swiss producers The Niceguys. It’s the sort of song that you can smell sunscreen while listening to, drawing new-yet-obvious comparisons between Jah’Mila’s powerhouse crooning and disco greats like Chic and Donna Summer.
Maura Whitman’s crescendo vocals on the bridge of her released-today single “Who I Am” immediately highlight her full-throated influences, which range from Ariana Grande to Adele. Floaty arrangements and thudding bass produced by Juno-winning producer Corey Lerue (whose resume boasts work with Ria Mae and Neon Dreams) provides the destined-for-top-40 sonic tension. Whitman’s been a star poised to shoot since her high school years (the prestigious Gordie Sampson Songwriting Camp broke its no-teens-allowed rule to let her attend at 17) and with this anthem of selfhood, you can hear her rising above the galactic plane.
Halifax’s indie darling Hillsburn—which will play one of the summer’s hottest tickets on July 9 at The Marquee—delivers its first dose of new since 2021’s smash hit LP Slipping Away. “The Room Across The Hall” makes the most of frontperson Rosanna Burrill’s powerful voice, pushing her into pop diva territory as she sings about daydreaming her ill lover was well enough to dance—a sort of mirror-image of Robyn’s smash “Dancing On My Own.” Fans of melancholy pop will look no further—at least until Hillsburn drops the full EP which will feature “The Room Across The Hall” later this year.
Tireless troubadour Matt Steele brings us a song that’s as tropical-inflected as a pineapple cocktail—and just as nostalgic as something from a tiki bar. “Vintage Photo Filter” sees Steele balance sonic lightness with lyrical heft: “Everything is crystal clear/Sometimes I wanna disappear” is the perfect bridge for the mix of anxiety and hope of the current moment.
It’s the song titles of honky-tonker Thomas Stajcer that get you first: They range from full thesis statements (2020’s “Who Will Listen To Country Music When The Trucks Drive Themselves?”) to mission statements (this week’s “Building A Home (Yip Walla Wahoo)”) make the directive clear as the crispness of his voice. His new track is a reminder that this isn’t the country music of Tim McGraw or Jake Owen. It’s country-western music, something Hank Snow would recognize on sight. The strings, creaking yodels and vitally refreshing lack of irony make this an easy sell for Corb Lund fans—but even city-slickers need a cowboy tune like this.