The Jerry Cans: Inuusiq

July 31, 2017

Northern Exposure

Listening Post 110. The ties that bind the disparate genres of the Jerry Cans’ third album—country and folk, rock and reggae—are the people, families and language of Canada’s Nunavut territory. Fronted by native Inuktitut speaker Nancy Mike (vocals, throat singing, accordion) and her husband Andrew Morrison (lead vocals, main songwriter, guitar), who learned the album’s primary language as a condition of marriage, the five-person band gives a tundra texture to every song, using music as a bridge between tradition and modernity and to instill pride in a young Inuit generation. In the 20-second Intro to Inuusiq (Life), the sounds of Arctic wind, howling sled dogs and crunching snow set the stage for Ukiuq (Northern Lights), a folk-rock lost-love story that riffs on Dylan’s Girl From the North Country: “I find myself traveling among the Northern Lights/I’m always left to wonder why,” Morrison chants, paced by Mike’s breathtaking and breath-giving throat-singing, “I will never forget…/There once lived a true love of mine” (video 1). The bluesy tone of Arnalukaq (Woman), amplifies a call for women to recognize their inner worth—“Beautiful girl/Don’t forget/Your soul carries the light”—and also a cry against domestic abuse (video 2). Anaanaga (My Mom) extends the affirmation theme, and includes a son-to-mother apology for sometimes acting like a jerk (video 3). Other tracks honor grandparents; weigh the merits of hunting caribou and seals against 9-to-5 office jobs; and address the alarming Arctic suicide rate. Inuusiq creates a virtuous local-global circle by connecting young people in Nunavut to their heritage and putting the richness of the culture in the world’s spotlight—thereby reinforcing the message back home. It’s also proof that there is no latitudinal limit to great music. (Aakuluk Music)






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