Gabrielle Papillon sings stories that have an air of authenticity, drawing on real experiences and relatable feelings. But even the stories she tells that aren’t based in reality are imagined with a sense of familiarity.
The Nova Scotia native has recorded five albums since her debut in 2001, SONGS FOR A RAINY DAY. An eight year hiatus from music ensued while she completed her Bachelor and Masters degrees in English Literature and History.
She returned with the critically-acclaimed THE WANDERER in January 2010, and THE CURRENCY OF POETRY in the fall of 2011 – again to rave reviews on the backs of tracks like the ode to the prairies “On The Banks,” “Dust To Gold,” the self-described ‘metaphor for life’ in “Paddle and Row,” and “Outlaws and Criminals.”
Her fourth album, 2012’s LITTLE BUG, generated several tracks that got airplay on indie and college radio, including the title track – written on tour in a cold trailer, about ‘coming of age’, “Turn Left,” and “Go Into The Night” – the true story of her own great grandmother – a little girl born the night her father was lost at sea trying to get a doctor.
The album was nominated for an ECMA (East Coast Music Award) for Folk Recording of the Year, and three Music Nova Scotia Awards. CBC Radio also named it one of its top albums of the year and it spent several months on several indie charts.
She returned in March 2015 with THE TEMPEST OF OLD with award-winning producer Daniel Ledwell (The Weakerthans, Kathleen Edwards). Recorded at Echo Lake Studios in Halifax, the album was big and dark, orchestral and defiant, with tracks like the lead-off “Got Your Well,” the tale of a compulsive gambler “Brother Throw Down,” “Come and Gone,” and “Kentucky In The Dark.” The album also featured a larger supporting cast than with her earlier offerings, with members of Jenn Grant, Snailhouse, and Paper Beat Scissors, among others.
The common denominators in all of Papillon’s album has been her steadfast commitment to writing honest, believable, and relatable songs about life; and her ability to surround herself with some of the best producers and studio musicians around, with minimal ‘studio magic,’ relying instead on solid songwriting and clean and crisp production.
She became a staple on the Home Routes circuit in the late ’00s, taking her to smaller venues across Canada and the US as a sort of musical co-op that showcases the top Canadian indie roots artists. She’s also made several trips throughout Europe at a number of high profile festivals and clubs.