Sidney York may be a new name on the scene, but she’s far from a musical novice. You see, she’s the creative alter-ego of Brandi Sidoryk (the choice of name is a clever near-anagram), a highly accomplished musician and teacher in the classical realm. She has a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music from the University of Melbourne, and remains active as a classical music performer and teacher. She took a principal role in the opera medley “Children Of War” in Melbourne and played the role of The Leader in Kurt Weill’s “Down In The Valley” in Calgary.
The seeds for Sidney York’s creation were sown while Sidoryk was studying in Melbourne. Inspired by that city’s fertile music scene, she began writing her own songs, something she quickly discovered was “a really good expressive outlet for me.” This material drew upon a wide range of musical influences and styles, and her healthy eclecticism is vividly showcased on Sidney York. Trying to define the Sidney York sound is about as tricky as riding a bucking bronco. ”I do not have a nifty phrase for it,” Brandi admits.
“It is just so me, in so many aspects. There are country influences from the music my parents listened to as I was growing up in Saskatchewan and Alberta, there are jazz influences, and many of my vocal techniques come from the classical side. I still teach classical and musical theatre and perform classical music, I sing jazz every now and again with the military, and I’m a French horn player. I don’t fit into a category so I don’t expect my music to.” If pressed, she’ll live with the ‘f’ word.
“I latched onto folk music a little later in my life, but it’s a genre I felt was welcoming and encompassing enough for me.” In turn, the folk music community has been quick to embrace this talented new arrival, and Sidney York won in the category of Best Song by a Newcomer at the 2008 Calgary Folk Fest Songwriting Competition with the song “Stalker.” Brandi’s acknowledged influences include fellow westerners Joni Mitchell to Corb Lund , and she is inspired by such Canadian singer/songwriter peers as Basia Bulat, Woodpigeon, and Hawksley Workman. Sidoryk’s highly educated musicianship was clearly in evidence on her Sidney York EP, a self-described “labour of love” that she co-produced. Three of its songs have been revisited on the full album, but in a more fully realized form. Brandi recorded the album in Vancouver and Abbotsford B.C., with experienced producer/musician Mike Norman (his playing has graced over 100 albums) at the helm.
Sidoryk gives Norman real credit for “helping me choose musicians beneficial to the project. They really understood what I was doing and did my music such justice.” The cast list assembled is indeed impressive. It includes Norman on piano and organ, internationally-famed jazz bassist Rene Worst (Chet Baker, Phoebe Snow), guitarist Tom McKillip (Ian Tyson, Lisa Brokop), drummer Jerry Adolphe (Chilliwack, Jim Byrnes), fiddler/background vocalist Sierra Noble, and the Odds rhythm section of Doug Elliott and Pat Steward. The Odds connection was thrilling for Sidoryk.
“Their Neopolitan album was the soundtrack to my high school years. To connect with one of my influences in creating this album-was huge.” “I loved that I had a mish-mash of musicians to deal with my mish-mash of music,” says Brandi. “They listened to the stripped down guitar and vocal versions, and we let them do what they did. I’d give specific directions at times, and my classical music background means I have the confidence to say ‘this is what I want,’ and be able to translate that.” The happy outcome is a record whose musical adventurousness perfectly complements the imaginative and emotionally eloquent lyrics of Sidney York.
The use of instruments as varied as horns and banjo (played by Brandi herself) matches songs that move easily from the introspectively personal (“Fallin’”, “Buddy,” “Safe n Sound”) to playful satire (“Stalker”) to upbeat melodic pop (“My Name Is Karma”). “I am so picky about my lyrics,” explains Brandi. “I usually like to have something on the surface, then something deeper you’ll find if you really listen to the lyrics.” A perfect example here is “Mortimer,” a breezy tune that sounds like a lament about a neglectful lover but might just be about her unreliable car. Sample lyric: “I could go for a ride but I know you’d never last that long.” The gently haunting “Fallin’” will be the first single and video, and it’s a song that, in Brandi’s words, describes a situation where “you’re falling into this state of total desperation, yet you are still falling in love.” Slated as a second single is the potentially controversial “Stalker.” Set to a jaunty melody, this is a deliberately over the top, but also very funny, cautionary tale told from the perspective of a female stalker: “Sorry I keyed your car, but I couldn’t find a pen to leave you a note.” The quickly blossoming love affair between Sidney York and her audience is destined for a far happier outcome.
Armed with this compelling set of new songs, she is getting ready to hit the road this summer. This is an artist and an album to be reckoned with. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more