Gwenifer Raymond – You Never Were Much Of A Dancer

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Well, I judged the shit out of this album cover. You can go ahead and hate me if you like, I won’t mind. All I knew before pressing play was that this was a folk album. So, I expected some Joni Mitchell, parking lot, saving the forest, fairy, vegan, jaywalking, smoking weed, and smelling bad with a couple songs about heartbreak and turmoil peppered in for good measure. Instead, I got the deep and dark Americana guitar styling of John Fahey and Glenn Jones coming out of Welsh woman with a PhD in astrophysics that used to design video games for a living.

Ya, I’m pretty sure I just met one of my new favourite people.

Gwenifer is the very idea of not judging a book by its cover. In a simpler world, she sits on the back of a wagon chewing through a long hand rolled cigar peeking out from behind a dusty leather cap covering her eyes. This lady doesn’t just play the guitar and banjo, she plays the living shit out of them. Her thumb works like a drug dealer flipping through a fat stack of cash as the rest of her fingers whirl demonic minors, breakneck speeds, and folksy bends and slides like she was born in the Appalachian mountains sometime around 1910. 

On “Bleeding Finger Blues” she plays the banjo like she’s exorcising a demon out of the fucking thing. On tracks like “Sweep It Up” she plays that slow and low down Americana style of John Fahey. There’s even a tribute track to the king of Americana called “Requiem For John Fahey”. She plays all these different styles, instruments, and tracks perfectly. But what’s most surprising about this album is what she adds to this style that only a true outsider could.

Whether it’s learning a second language as an adult, moving to an entirely different country other than your own, or immersing yourself in anything other than what you were specifically born into, you’ve got to work 10 times harder than all those other motherfuckers born into it. Your search, passion, and dedication for the subject has to be that much more. Gwenifer found Delta and Appalachian blues through listening to Nirvana. Fucking Nirvana. Remember? Those dudes covered Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on MTV Unplugged in New York. The dedication and love she has for this style comes through in spades. I’ve met musicians that could play the impossible without a thought or heart; they were simply born and forced into it. Gwenifer plays the impossible without having the cynicism, complacency, and contempt that comes with familiarity. And it’s refreshing, fun, and fucking amazing. 

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