Abigail Lapell shares “Ships” from upcoming LP “Stolen Time”

Set for release on April 22 via Outside Music and available for pre-save here, Abigail Lapell’s third album, Stolen Time, is elemental and powerfully evocative, channeling natural imagery and the revolving seasons to take a longer look over decades and generations, ultimately delivering up the present moment the way only the best music can. Last week, the Toronto based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist released another new track from the LP, “Ships”, a song in which opposites attract and repel again.

The song explores the insatiable, contradictory impulses that drive doomed love and other addictions: leaving versus staying, quitting versus relapsing, familiar shores and uncharted waters. Anchored by Lapell’s insistent, slightly distorted guitar riff, the song builds in dynamics with layers of vocal harmonies alongside drums (Dani Nash), bass (Dan Fortin) and guitars (Christine Bougie), sounding like a mellower Sleater-Kinney or Laura Veirs with a horn section. Sketching in waves of sunshine and shadow, the band underscores and meets the power of Lapell’s vocals, a wild sax solo seemingly enticing her higher and louder to meet the crashing waves.

Produced by Howard Bilerman at Hotel2Tango Studio in Montreal, a theme of recovery runs through Stolen Time, with lyrics about becoming sober or coping with a partner’s sudden illness, exploring the cycle of relapse and rehabilitation. The album’s title comes from the musical term tempo rubato, which Lapell picked up while teaching herself piano. Referring to the expressive push and pull of tempo in musical phrasing, it’s also a fitting metaphor for the fragile rhythm of uncertain times, darkness hand in hand with escapism. On “Scarlet Fever”, swirling and woozy with Rachael Cardiello’s viola and Peggy Lee’s cello, Lapell recalls a relative’s tales of childhood quarantine; “Sewage” is a fever dream of a loved one recovering from surgery. “All Dressed Up”, a honeyed sweet duet with Montreal’s Chris Velan, echoes how many of us have felt these past two years while waiting to recover our lives.

By turns poetic and painterly, Stolen Time brings a live-off-the-floor, 70s folk-rock vibe and structural experimentation to songs that feel expansive in their scope—unhurried, psychedelic and other-worldly in the vein of Gillian Welch or Karen Dalton. It also marks the meeting of two important music communities for Lapell, who spent formative years living in Montreal’s Mile End before moving back to her hometown. Toronto players include Dan Fortin (bass), Dani Nash (drums, vocals) and Christine Bougie (lap steel, guitars); and from Montreal, Katie Moore (vocals), Pietro Amato (French horn) and Ellwood Epps (trumpet).

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