MJ’s thoughts on Canopy: “All the lyrics have been extracted directly from Writings of the Baha’i Faith. My intention with this record is to find concepts, and ideas, that are universally inspirational to everyone no matter the belief or school of thought. Too often, concepts connected to spirituality or Faith seem so out-of-reach, or taboo. I hope to create something that can show a softer, more tangible side.”
To put a bit of a personal spin on this invitation, I remember hearing MJ something like 15 years ago at a series of provincial youth conferences in Kingston. I would always hang out at the coffeehouse events in the evenings just to hear her sing, nay, belt out her original songs with her piercing, passionate voice, which I always found to be well suited to devotional projects such as we now see in Canopy. While her voice may be somewhat tempered compared to her early days, it still clearly conveys her passion, especially in the album’s heartbeat-backed title track. The strength and clarity of her voice and her deft use of vocal harmony, two of her characteristic musical traits, are present even in the album’s more down-tempo tracks. Most of Canopy is light-hearted and upbeat, which may come as a surprise to those whose concept of devotional music revolves around gregorian chants or ragas. Oh My‘s sing-along vibe and Intone‘s boppy rhythm and instrumental variety would fit nicely on a roadtrip mixtape, while I could listen to Innocent in Heart‘s ambient electronic tones and Destine for them Every Good‘s driving synth-centred pop-rock rhythm all day at work. The Watchman, meanwhile, puts the traditional story of a “heart-surrendered lover” driven by seemingly hostile watchmen towards his heart’s desire to a melodious country beat. Overall, Canopy is an enjoyable, accessible album that should please not only those seeking musical enlightenment, but also those looking for a solid collection of songs that offer a little more than just a catchy tune.