Music

Ottawa Folk Artist Christine Graves Goes Her Own Way On “Bend The Rules”

When trying to navigate this crazy life, it’s common to want to (innocently) bend the rules rather than walk a straight path, to make our existence our own powerful expression. Ottawa folk artist Christine Graves captures the forlorn frustration and laughing acceptance of living an unconventional existence with her new single “Bend The Rules” from her forthcoming album Everyday Life.

“Bend The Rules” YouTube and Spotify

An introspective acoustic-guitar ballad that features understated electric bass and mellow drums, “Bend The Rules” is confessional, prayerful, and self-aware, as Graves examines how hard, but beautiful, life and love can be:

And if I could I surely would grow wings for arms and fly far away

Why do birds stop their song at night but sing all day?  

God, let me bend the rules 

Isn’t this why you made them? We abide and then we break them then we stop

God let me bend the rules 

The ballad’s melancholy-yet-wise resonance comes from the repetition of the lyrics, the hypnotic rhythm of Christine’s guitar playing, its creative starts and stops, and the sad but knowing expressiveness of her voice. “Bend The Rules” is a song that’s much more than the sum of its parts, conveying meaning through almost sixth sense feeling.

Part of the song’s vividness derives from the fact that for Everyday Life, all of the songs were recorded live off the floor over the period of a year during the pandemic. Christine was working as a part-time frontline mental-health worker in a local hospital, and making music helped her manage her emotions and refuel her tank before, during, and “after” COVID. But she clarifies: “It’s not an isolation album. That might come next.”

Christine especially enjoyed recording the album in a live manner. “These are my ‘scratch’ vocal takes, and I almost titled the album Scratch,” she explains. “Working from the energy of live takes is a process I cherish, and it adds to the quality of the recording by creating a strong connection to the listener from a holistic presentation of the key musical elements.” In other words, she is not recorded over, produced to the nth degree, or presented as something she is not. The record represents closely what a live show is when you venture out to hear Christine perform.

Christine Graves is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has made music independently since 1995, with a release of her debut piece by piece. She became a CBC radio darling and received critical acclaim, recording three more independent albums released on her label Brave Music between 1998 and 2006. Christine’s music can be described as spacious and introspective contemporary folk. She writes poetry and puts it into song, performing on guitar and ukulele and often improvising vocal solos. Occasionally her east coast roots come to the fore, and she plays on her grandfather’s 100-year-old banjo ukulele from Nova Scotia.

Her new single “Bend The Rules,” from the forthcoming Everyday Life, is available now.

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