Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell started cutting her teeth as an indie-pop songwriter and solo performer at the tender age of 14 in Guelph, Ont., before enrolling in the jazz program at Montreal’s Concordia University, where the original members of Land of Talk came together. When they released their debut EP, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, in 2006, they hit the road running, but oddly enough, they first garnered attention south of the border, with Europe and the U.K. quickly swooning afterwards.
“We’ve been really lucky, being a Canadian band,” says Powell, Land of Talk’s principal songwriter, singer and guitarist, “but we never concentrated that much on Canada because right from the start, it was places like New York that took us under their wing. It wasn’t until after we toured with Broken Social Scene and got some airplay on CBC Radio that Canadians started to pick up on us. Even though we don’t sound like Broken Social Scene or Arcade Fire, I think that the phenomenon of those bands made it easier for us.”
The band’s new record, The Golden Guess, is probably its true jewel in an already well-decorated crown. With a denser musical mix that further carves out its signature sound, Land of Talk — with Joseph Yarmush on bass and Andrew Barr on drums — still possesses the strong pop sensibility that earmarked its earlier releases. But Powell’s croon and hard-fought lyrical pearls now burrow deeper into your skin, while the band is able to push beyond conventions and still remain grounded.
“When we were writing for the new record and recording it, we didn’t have a label in the picture, and we found that really freeing,” Powell says. “Because we didn’t have anybody looking over our shoulders, we were able to make the record we wanted.”
Much of the disc’s psychedelic flair and steadfast direction could be attributed to Jace Lasek, co-producer and member of the Besnard Lakes, whose grubby mitts [??] can be found all over the record. “We’ve worked with Jace before, but we were adamant about him coming more to the forefront,” says Powell. “He was pretty light-handed previously because he wanted to see how far we would take it on our own, but this time, I was really upfront about co-producing with him. Even if Jace and I didn’t live in the same city, I would travel anywhere in the world to work with him again. He really helped me piece together all of this crap that was trapped in my brain. He’s amazing.”