Merival/Kristin Witko


Lesson // Independent

Lesson is the product of a longing and creative heart worn on the sleeve of Toronto’s Anna Horvath in her project Merival. The full length album, released June 21st, 2019 is the long awaited follow up to her 2016 EP Lovers which tugged on the heartstrings of many. Additional instrumentation and vocals were provided on tracks by a few musicians including Sam Gleason who engineered and produced the album before mastering was completed by Heather Kirby. 

In Merival’s biography, Anna Horvath proclaims to be a sad girl having fun and that can be felt on her new album which is equal parts despair and fresh air. The songs on Lesson seem to dance with the excitement of moving on and learning from past hurts, never wallowing in self pity but rising above with a new lease on life. This resilience is perfectly mirrored by Horvath’s soft voice and confident delivery that says “I’ve got this”, while sparse arrangements of strings, keys and drums help to prop her up like good friends. While there are strong themes of learning from loss, there is also a fear of the future that hangs over the album like a cloud and that is something everyone can relate to because nobody knows what the future holds. To sum it all up, Lesson is a beautiful folk album forged in real human emotion that will stick with you long after listening.

- Jeshaiah David


Kristin Witko

Zone of Exclusion // Kingfisher Bluez

Zone of Exclusion is Kristin Witko’s third release, and her second full-length album. Co-writer and producer Simon Bridgefoot lends his skills to Witko’s beautifully haunting creation. It serves as part of Witko’s artistic residency at Karlton Gallery. The album features sharp lyricism punctuated by varied percussion, and stinging, memorable guitar riffs. Zone of Exclusion is a search for home within oneself, amidst what Witko terms the “alien.” Witko’s sharp lyricism reverberates with echoing vocals that bellow into a chasm of isolation. 

The lyric, “We’re a pantomime of what the body can do” in “I’d Rather It Be With You” sets the tone for the album’s search for the fragments that help to construct the self. By showing the connection between bodies, Witko is helping to shatter the sense of feeling excluded. These slivers of the self are connected from song to song, helping to construct a cohesive album. Fragments become represented by repetition, such as the repeated line, “Bye”, that unfolds layers of bittersweet relief of departure in “Never Thought It Could Be That Sweet.”

“I’d Rather It Be With You” is a danceable anthem about the complications of relationships, breaking love down to a chemical level, with a surreal airiness leaping from the disco rhythm lending a sinister twist. These sinister twists are also incorporated in the menacing vibes reverberating through the bass line in “How Am I Feeling?” and in the spoken word titular track “(Zone of Exclusion)” where questions regarding Chernobyl’s tragedy are repeated. The album discusses loneliness and exclusion, ultimately helping the listener feel less alone within these relatable and memorable motifs.

- Kyra MacFarlane