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Paige Cora – Photo Credit: Jennifer McCready
“We’ve got open air.” These four words inaugurate singer-songwriter Paige Cora’s stunning debut, Instant in Time. And while they distinctly set the stage for “Bicycle Bells,” the album’s viscerally vivid opening track, they also serve as a bold manifesto and clear-cut introduction for what’s to come from an artist who’s truly coming into her own as a creative force.
Instant in Time arrives today and The Big Takeover is excited to host the premiere of the whole album. Written and produced by Cora herself, engineered and mixed by Jae Daniel, and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London by Christian Wright (Ed Sheeran, Franz Ferdinand, Blur, Keane), the LP teems with the confidence of a seasoned performer in the process of defining her original voice.
From the atmospheric vocal build-up and guitar-riffage payoff of “The Good Side of Desire,” to the elegant dream-pop spaciness of “Facing the Grass,” to the synth-driven, natural-habitat rhythms of the album-closing epic “Forest Pine,” all nine tracks that comprise Instant in Time reflect just how deft this burgeoning Canadian keyboardist and vocalist is at capturing and chronicling those ever-elusive ethereal song spirits in our material world.
The heartbeat at the center of Instant in Time came together by virtue of how Cora and her core bandmates worked together live off the floor at Black Rock Studio in Buffalo, New York, intermingled with warm cello accents and everything else members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame added to her song arrangements. It also helped that Cora instantly connected creatively with her engineer and Instant in Time right-hand in-studio man, Jae Daniel.
Being in tune with what Cora describes as the “high-vibe” of the natural rhythms of nature and its own respective needs resides at the core of the artist’s own personal goals and professional desires. All of this serves to catalyze the creative gifts that reside in the grooves that make up the nine musical snapshots collected on Instant in Time. With this electrifying debut album, Paige Cora is poised to take a giant leap into the musical breach. Don’t let the instant awakening of such a vibrant new artist pass you by.
Cora reveals interesting details about Instant in Time, stating, “It’s funny how many themes there are of death and transition in this record, yet it’s not morose at all. It’s celebratory and reflective, and leans on my own spiritual principles for its perspective. Many of the songs were written in a time of personal loss of several family members and close friends, and, coincidentally, after the year 2017, that knocked so many legendary artists from our physical world. David Bowie, being a huge loss for me. I remember when I was writing the record, I kept listening to an interview where he basically says something like, as soon as you feel your toes are not quite touching the ground, and you feel a little uneasy about it, that’s when you know you’re really onto something exciting. I had his words on repeat in the back of my head as I wrote, and later in studio as the producer.”
“My favorite result of this advice is “Bicycle Bells,” a song written about a tragic day in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, in which a man died protecting his fiancée from a falling tree branch. The song tells the story through the transition of their arrival from France to Toronto, the moments of joy before the accident, and then a message of universal energy and love, that he and his spirit were still around his fiancée, everywhere she went. Sonically and production-wise, the song is divided into three acts, all of which feature time changes and intense dynamic ranges. It is certainly the most ambitious track on the record, I think that’s why I put it as the first thing you hear.”
“The other interesting track for me was “Echoes.” Before I began writing the record, I was commissioned by Sir George Martin’s son, Gregory Martin, to write a bunch of songs for a UK musical television show he was producing. I found it fascinating to be given character names and their motivations, and then to write a song for their purpose. I credit and thank Gregory for inspiring me to open up my writing potential to other artists. I soon began scoring documentaries and writing music for other artists.”
“When I heard Sam Smith’s voice, I really loved it, so I tried writing a song with his voice in mind. “Echoes” has a total Motown vibe, but the melody and lyric is confessional. It’s about the energy that someone leaves behind in an environment that echoes. Have you ever gone apartment hunting and felt the vibe from the last tenant? From this idea, I wrote it about the echo of a lover leaving the space you inhabited together. When they’re gone, there’s a palpable emptiness that echoes. Even though I dreamed of Sam Smith singing it, our radio promoter Brad Hunt was like, “No! You have to do your own version on the record!” So we did, and it’s one of my favorite to sing, because I would have never comprised a melody like that for myself.”
“Sonically, “The Good Side of Desire” was my absolute favorite to produce. The song begins with an inspiration that came from The Beach Boys, and Brian Wilson’s production idea for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” I read somewhere that the dreamy sound at the beginning was imagining a boy seeing a dream girl, and all the clouds and wavy lines appear with harp music playing like he’s in heaven, like in the movies. Suddenly, whap!, the snare drum snaps them back to reality, and the song starts. To this end, my track hovers in this ethereal space, with Daniel Lanois/U2-like delayed guitar clouds over top. The band slowly adds their presence, and then crescendos into a four-on-the-floor rush with piano riffage and guitar lead. The lyric in this ethereal state starts, “Maybe you’re the only one to break into this cloud, to take a closer look, and try and pin me down.”
Cora, who grew up surrounded by music and with a musician father, started out in musical theater, performing arts camp, and acting lessons. In high school, she started a band with some classmates, which went on, eventually, to become the art-rock, avant-pop, Toronto-based band The Ruby Spirit. As lead singer, she channeled her inner grunge-glam rocker with elaborate stage clothes like something out of “Ziggy Stardust” meets “Cabaret.” Her time with the band, which lasted from her teens to her mid-20s, was marked by success and press praise in Canada as well as touring both north and south of the border.
For the past five years, she has explored music as a solo artist. Meditation, an important component to Cora’s life, holds a clear influence on her music. “Finding not just the vocals but the chords that are open and have some sort of beauty or euphoria to them is a big part of how I write now,” she observes. “It all resonates better with the universe that way.”
For several years, Cora has been working as a music composer for film, and she has been frequently commissioned by the iconic Historica Canada to compose cello, violin, and piano scores for historical documentaries distributed across Canada. She has produced classical musicians in a recording studio, playing her sheet music, calling it, “a life-long dream being realized to compose for film.”
Besides being laser-focused on creating and playing her own music, Cora is also extremely passionate about supporting animal welfare and nurturing animal rights. She gladly gives freely of her own time to perform at animal-rights benefits and lends additional assistance to animal sanctuaries whenever and wherever she can. Currently, Cora personally oversees a number of rescue animals who live on her own property, and she also created and backs Imagine P.A.W.S., a not-for-profit that focuses on feral cat spaying, neutering programs, and cat adoption.
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