Maimann: Rebecca Lappa's latest album pure poetry

The fact that Rebecca Lappa is releasing her fourth album at age 17 is a pretty clear indicator she’s not your typical high school student.

While her friends are keeping up on the latest pop hits, Rebecca Lappa has been sinking her teeth into world music and brushing up on history.

Saturday night at Roxy Theatre, the folk singer and multi-instrumentalist will release her new CD Ode to Tennyson, a diverse album based on works by 19th Century British poet Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Lappa says Top 40 fare has just never drawn her in the way a good book does.

“I guess I don’t feel like there’s enough story in the music. It’s just the same chorus over and over again. It’s like, ‘Well I heard that part already. Is there going to be something interesting happening in this song, or you’re just going to say you’re at the club?’ ” she says.

“I mean, I haven’t been to a club yet, but lots of people have. I just prefer songs that have stories that actually mean something.”

The album has already earned Lappa a nomination for Young Performer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the latest in a long list of nominations and awards.

Ode to Tennyson starts with Charge of the Light Brigade — a grisly “Irish war song” that builds to an upbeat Celtic-folk charge — and slows right down for The Earl, a sparse and haunting number with vocal inflections reminiscent of Lorde.

Lappa schooled herself on music from across the globe to suit the lyrics for each of the album’s 11 tracks, while also drawing inspiration from Canadian artists like Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt.

“I wrote the music catering to the stories specifically,” she explains. “I have a song in there that’s about the Roma people, so I’ve been listening to stuff from their culture. I’ve been listening to some Celtic stuff and jazz and Mariachi bands, different things like that, to help create the themes that those specific songs were looking for.”


The songs on Ode to Tennyson are impressively mature and complex.

A $10,000 RAWLCO Radio Grant helped take Lappa’s arrangements to the next level with a team of veteran musicians including guitarist Gord Matthews — who has worked with k.d. lang and Ian Tyson - and producer Barry Allen, a local rock legend who scored Canadian Top 40 hits in the 1960s. She also got help from Edmonton’s Maria Dunn, who added whistle and accordion, and members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra among others.

With a remarkable list of accomplishments that include writing and performing an entire folk opera based on Tennyson’s poem The Sisters, and pulling off a one-woman musical at Nextfest in May called The Great Edmonton Elephant Stampede From 1926, Lappa’s future holds limitless possibilities.

She hopes to get accepted to the songwriting program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music after she graduates, and would love to pen some big hits — but not for herself.

“I want to write for other people for a living, so then I don’t have to be confined to one genre,” she says. “I don’t really need to be on stage with 50,000 people watching me. If somebody else gets to do that with my music, then that’s good. I don’t really like a lot of attention.”

Lappa will perform with a four-piece backing band Saturday. Rocky Mountain House duo The Doll Sisters will open the show and release their new album Off the Edge of the Earth.

Tickets are $14 through the Roxy Theatre Box Office at 780-453-2440.

Maimann: Rebecca Lappa's latest album pure poetry

Ode to Tennyson - Review by Connor Sadler /

In her latest album, Edmonton-born Rebecca Lappa blends folk and classical vocals to create Ode to Tennyson, her fourth full-length album. The album is inspired by the works of 19th century British poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Lappa’s music is energetic and complex, with classical and folk influences dove-tailing into jazzy, Celtic and even Latin territory.

The opening track, “Mermaid and Merman,” has a serene feeling created by a simple piano and vocal melody. The song picks up and takes on a bubbly atmosphere, but is kept grounded by the drums and bass. The LP takes a serious turn with “Kraken,” which compares the turmoil of love to a kraken sitting just below the surface waiting to swallow ships whole. The rest of the album is varied — “Queen of May” has a smooth jazz sound, whereas “Field of Dishonour” borrows from Latin-American music. “The Light Brigade” has the feel of a Celtic march.

The album’s second last song “Lemon Mine” — which tells the tragic story of two friends who kill each other over a cave of gold — is set to a spirited tune, creating an unsettling contrast between the story and the music.

At first, Ode to Tennyson can seem like another generic folk record. But the album shines with Lappa’s ability to weave a storyline into her songs with the versatility of her voice. Whether she is singing a Celtic poem or a Mexican love song, Lappa’s voice fits perfectly and the variety keeps the album from being repetitive.


Ode to Tennyson - Review by John The Rock Doctor Kereiff
ODE TO TENNYSON Rebecca Lappa (independent) **** 1/2

This past weekend I was privileged to emcee for a few hours at the Come By The Hills Music Festival in Mistahiya, Alberta. We saw and heard some wondeerful music on Saturday, with nobody perhaps more charming than Rebecca Lappa.

Rebecca's sound is modern celtic/ folk/ pop and this album, just released in June, is an unexpected pleasure. Many of her songs are inspried by history and mythology, as you might expect from someone who enjoys Celtic music, and the poetry of Lord Alfred Tennyson. Her voice is crystal clear, beautiful really, and she doesn't overwhelm the songs on this disc with cluttered arrangements. No, the lyrics wring enough drama and emotion out the songs, thank you very much.

I was lucky enough to meet Rebecca, and privileged to introduce her on stage at the Come By The Hills Festival in Mistayhiya, where she told me that Loreena Mckennitt was one of her heroes, whom she'd had a chance to meet. Though they do have some song subejects and a fascination with ancient traditions in common, Lappa's music is more accessible, more enjoyable and, dare I say, less pretentious than some of McKennitt's stuff that I have heard. What I'm trying to say is, don't let the 'Celtic' label scare you off- Lappa's songs are relaxing, melodic, enjoyable, and amazing company on a rainy afternoon.

Rebecca was also kind enough to autograph my copy of this CD, and her father (and road manager) let me know that they'll be having a CD release party at the movie theater in Wainwright in November- hope I got the right month. And by the way- she's only 17. For more info on this ridiculouysly talented young artist, go to

HIGHLIGHTS: Gypsy, Queen Of The May, Fields Of Dishonour

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Red Deer Advocate - Poet is inspiration for Edmonton songwriter
What does Victorian poet Lord Alfred Tennyson have in common with a contemporary Edmonton songwriter?

A romantic sensibility, as it turns out.

Rebecca Lappa, who performs next Tuesday and Thursday (July 15, 17) on Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio, drew on atmospheric poems written by England’s 19th-century poet laureate — including The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Lotus Eaters — as inspiration for songs on her latest CD...Read More

Rebecca Lappa - A Night at Nextfest
NxtFst 2014 Then I dashed over to Azimuth’s Living Room Playhouse to catch a new piece from Rebecca Lappa, the youthful artist who created major buzz last year with her folk opera The Earl (slated for Nextfest’s closing night next Sunday).With The Great Edmonton Elephant Stampede of 1926, this amazing 17-year-old channels a bizarre event in our civic history through a the eyes of the reporter who covered the story - the night 14 circus elephants escaped their bonds and went exploring through the gardens, graveyards, and retail outlets of the West End.

Lappa fashions the story as a sort of song cycle, as per Jason Robert Brown. And a cast of vivid grotesques steps forward from the sideshow canvas – the strong man, the trapeze artist, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy among them – to chronicle a night to remember. The storytelling has a picturesque period charm of its own, and the songs are clever. The transition between speech and song is sometimes a bit bumpy; Lappa, who accompanies herself on banjo or guitar or at the keyboard, isn’t nearly as strong a speaker of text as she is a singer. But the piece is a remarkable display of confidence, song-writing dexterity, and enthusiasm for quirky detail. Very impressive, and fun.

A Night at Nxtfst - Edmonton Journal Blog

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