"Rice’s voice is stunningly good – pure, with infinite emotional depth."
-Phil S., Leicester Bangs
"Tara Rice's new EP, Panorama, would have served as the perfect soundtrack to the summers at Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley wrote her classic novel, Frankenstein."
-Amy Heimpel, Velvet Rope Magazine
"Tara Rice makes what I call dark country. Soothing yet sinister. She can lull you to sleep or wake the dead with her siren songs."
-Phil Russel, ALittleBitOfSol
"Since I’ve been involved in the TO music scene, Tara continues to be one of my favourite vocalists."
There could be another way to think about it. Possibly another truth. Just a slight perspective shift, a deeper dig into what we think we know, an investigation into the rumour, and suddenly worlds emerge. Old dirt is overturned and fresh earth is uncovered. That red devil who is seen as so evil? Maybe he’s a horned god, assimilated from an old religion who represents free will, music, nature, dancing and love. That famous vilified stoner? Perhaps he had a PhD, and researched the chemical alteration of consciousness in a controlled setting to better understand the nature of human behavior.
‘Panorama’, the 6-song EP from Toronto-based artist Tara Rice, ponders such prospects, and gently urges the imagination to reach for new interpretations; a peeling back of the story, layer by layer, in an effort to give way to a holistic, panoramic view.
Though the majority of the music was written, recorded and performed by Rice in her Bloor Street apartment, the mood of this alternative folk-rock album transcends the concrete city vibe. The songs, along with Tara’s multifaceted, distinctive voice, sweep and shape-shift through genres and influences (a bit of PJ Harvey grunge here, some Sandy Denny folk there). At times summoning whimsical, psychedelic pastoral vistas, and at other times conjuring crisp, cool, dark autumn forests in times of myth, Panorama’s music pulls the listener into an evocative and welcoming world that is wholly its own.
Rice’s voice has been described as haunting and otherworldly, ebbing and flowing symbiotically with her propensity for bending genres. Throughout ‘Panorama’ we can experience a heartbreaking vulnerability expressed in one moment, playful inquisitiveness or sensuality in the next and then the hiss of barbed vitriol. Yet somehow, it all seems to happen at the right time, delivered with emotionally wide-ranging lyrics and melodies that endure in the soul.
Tara is currently booking Canadian show and festival dates. You can also find her singing with her longtime love, the cinematic art-rock band, 5th PROJEKT (www.5thprojekt.com).
Tara Rice - "Panorama' Review
Tara Rice slid into my ears two months ago and her six track EP “Panorama” has been great to have whilst commuting on the train to work. It’s witchy intoxicating passive aggressive undertow has been great for calming me down but allowing me to still be vengeful with a giant laptop bag.
Opening the alternative folk sounds is “Stones” which merges acoustic guitar and tuned percussive wood blocks that layer over each other beautifully and organically. Tara’s voice has a sheen to it and an effortlessness to its whispered ways. She reminds me very much of Wendy Rule, whose Australian folk is just as organic. The track is emotive and like a journey with catchy verses. “Vampires” is a more plugged effort with a muddy bass line and electric guitar ambient effects creating a claustrophobic atmosphere as slowly Tara’s voice tightens and raises up the octaves for an unsettling tone. It was the first track of Tara’s I heard and is still probably my favourite as it’s the dark and angst riddled side to her, but it also shape shifts from rock to dark to fluffy and back again in a drop of a hat and it all makes sense. “No Harm” stays firmly in the aggressive side with noise drenched drum machines and plenty of minor chords. The chords remind me of Maple Bee and her catchy choruses. It also has some nifty production tricks that continue that haunted witch feel.
“Oh Tim” is a pretty ditty that waltz the guitar through the rat-tat-tat like an olden folk tale given the modern lyrical overhaul. It’s also got some of my favourite lyrics from the clearly troubled Tim like “In order to use your head you need to go out of your mind”. “If You Were My Monster” then takes us back to a western tinged 90’s PJ Harvey and it really lets Tara’s voice shine as well as her ability to weave hooks into a track that stick in your mind for ages. It packs a punch and holds you there as you rock out to its riff. The closer “The Emerald Horizon” is an acoustic guitar led song that has multiple layers of Tara’s vocals providing a spooky yet sultry aura to the piece. It’s got a shuffle bop to it as she sings “you’re a champagne spiritualist”.
It’s a strong start to what will hopefully be a productive and equally engaging career. This is a singer/songwriter who has carved out a really clever palette of sound and Higher Plain Music is excited to see where it goes next.-Simon Smith
49 DEGREES: CANADIAN PAGAN PERSPECTIVES
A New Face in Canadian Pagan Music: Tara Rice
Click here for full interview.
Music Review: Panorama EP
This isn't just a Pagan EP. Subject matter, however, will definitely appeal to the Pagan subculture; alienation, loneliness, free-thinkers, and the Horned God all figure in this eerie and addictive EP release. As an indie musician myself I was seriously impressed with the quality of the production; Tara says she recorded this in her living room and then got it mastered; I can only assume it must be the mastering because my work doesn't sound this good! Her talent as a lyricist and composer comes through quite clearly.
Pigeon-holing the genre is a mistake. Musical style ranges from contemporary work that reminds me of Suzanne Vega, the Misfits, and Kate Bush. Alternative folk rock is probably the best description, but her arrangements involve cello, synthesized and live drums, electric guitar, and funky bass lines (among other things). Even the hard-rocking elements have a haunting, hypnotic quality.
The first song, "Stones" begins "Vaccinate my loneliness with cigarettes and wine, then invite the ghosts inside to help me keep the time, I'm between the lines, could you meet me for a spell? We will honour the deities that keep us well." She speaks of the Maiden, Mother and Crone as guides for life's changes; she speaks of digging through the dirt to find the stones as a metaphor for soul-searching and finding meaning in struggle. So the song isn't a Pagan song, but the imagery is purely Pagan.
"Vampires" talks about the energetic kind who wear on you and batten on your vitality; "No Harm" is the next track, and if you can't see this as a hymn to the Horned God, go back and re-read your Aradia: the Gospel of the Witches.
"Oh Tim" is a narrative lament for renegade psychologist Timothy Leary, who of course is famous for his research into psychedelics and altered states of consciousness. And as she herself points out in the interview, "Monster" is about celebrating the unusual and the weird and is sure to become a goth club favourite (and part of every Werewolf: the Apocalypse player's soundtrack). The final song on the EP, "The Emerald Horizon," uses the Wizard of Oz as a symbol of falling for flim-flam and situations that feel unreal.
I think the lyrics are brilliantly written (pregnant with meaning for a Pagan, but just evocative imagery for the secular audience) and the music is engaging. I recommend "Panorama," which can be purchased in limited-edition CD or in Mp3 format at Tara's Bandcamp site.
You can also find Tara on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube.
VELVET ROPE MAGAZINE
Tara Rice’s Haunting EP ‘Panorama’
Tara Rice's new EP, Panorama, would have served as the perfect soundtrack to the summers at Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley wrote her classic novel, Frankenstein.
The six tracks are gothic, romantic, and evoke images of haunted castles on high cliffs. Best known as a singer in the cinematic art rock group 5thPROJEKT, the fiery red-haired songstress’ solo effort proves she is a gem of a vocalist. An emerald, in fact.
Lyrically, Panorama opens on a strong note with, “Vaccinate my loneliness with cigarettes and wine/Then invite the ghosts inside to help me keep the time.” It is clear from the first note that Rice “Vampires,” the second track, has thankfully nothing to do with Twilight, but instead, uses the mythical creature as a metaphor for emotional draining. Rice spouts, “Sure are a lot of vampires in here…Feasting on my bleeding heart/I don’t want to be a part/Of this game.”
The “creatures” theme- specifically werewolves, ghosts, and monsters- is common throughout the six tracks; a consistency that comes from Rice having written all six tracks herself. In engaging these types of rich metaphors, she references the darkest parts of ourselves-our fears and our inhibitions- and brings them to light.Tara Rice’s Panorama was released on August 6th through Organik Rekords. It can be purchased online. 5th PROJEKT will be releasing a six-track EP, Gamma-Wave-Rhythm, on September 14th.
Tara Rice – Panorama (Organik Rekords)
Tara Rice is a Toronto based singer-songwriter, and her new EP, the six-track “Panorama” is frequently soothing, sometimes spiky, and more often than not, quite lovely. Produced by Rice and Sködt McNalty, the pair have put together a collection where every musical piece seems to have fallen into place. That’s no mean feat when we consider Rice’s range of influences and the often-conflicting approaches she takes to her music.
If you’re looking for a neat label to file Rice under, alternative folk-rock seems to be the consensus opinion, but it really only tells part of the story. Take the opening track “Stones”; the instrumentation includes cello, and something percussive, which I can’t put a name to, but maybe East Asian, or wholly synthesized. The effect is ethereal and haunting, and taps into a gothic romanticism, which brings to mind artists like Mazzy Star and All About Eve. And I should mention, Rice’s voice is stunningly good – pure, with infinite emotional depth.
“Stones” is followed by “Vampires”, where we hear a whole new aspect to Rice’s repertoire. The track begins and ends relatively sedately, the metaphorical bloodsucking tale is told in quirky pop tones, but the middle section is almost feral – guitars squall and vocals distort – and the effect is thoroughly arresting.
“No Harm” embraces a darker side, and “Oh, Tim” will remind some of the peculiar narratives that used to appear on early Kate Bush album. “If You Were My Monster” digs deep into old world mythology and is elevated with barbed rhythms, and final track “The Emerald Horizon” returns the listener to earth – literally - with plentiful natural imagery.