Christa Couture’s album “Long Time Leaving” was another of our favourites at Riot Towers earlier this year. It should have been a fraught listen, as a breakup album at the end of a long relationship, but the lively, sometimes jaunty, musical arrangements and Christa’s lovely voice lightened the overall mood, while the lyrics explored the empowerment of being newly single. So we’re really pleased that Christa has agreed to contribute to this year’s High Fives, and even more pleased that she’s highlighted her own personal positives from a difficult year.

What a year. There are so many things, people, and places, that I could high five, also many that I would hug. There’s even a few I would hold tight in my arms and not want to let go of. But these are the days of letting go of 2016, and looking back on a year in which I released my fourth album, toured the length of Canada, had two surgeries on my neck, had a bicycle accident, changed jobs, and moved house, I’m ready to say, “thank you and good night!” These are the top 5 things that saved my life, in big and small ways:

headphonesHeadphones and music

I moved to The Junction, in Toronto, Ontario, and to escape the (seeming) unending instability of unpacked boxes and unsettled space, I’d put on my headphones and walk through my new neighborhood, always trying to find something I hadn’t seen yet. The soundtrack for these walks blared powerfully in my ears “For Evelyn,” by Hannah Georgas.



A week in the Cascade Mountains in Vancouver, British Columbia in April and a week in the Rocky Mountains in Banff, Alberta in November were the stuff of deep breaths and restoration. I was once told by an elder in my community that mountains are our oldest healers. I’m so grateful that I was surrounded by their peaks this year and that I set my eyes upon their stunning beauty.

ikea-chipsIKEA chips

Seriously. Who needs a Billy bookshelf when there are the best potato chips, er, crisps, on the planet available? These are my favourite snack of the year. The trick is to buy as many as you can carry – my best is 14 bags (and a few months’ supply. Don’t worry – I pace myself and I share a lot). They are the tastiest. But don’t get the sour cream and onion crisps, no no: stick to the classic “potatischips saltade” and enjoy.


This high five is personal and specific, and I could say high fives to all my friendships this year as I leaned on pretty much everyone in my life to get through it, but this friendship in particular is getting a shout out. She is my oldest and dearest friend; we first met when we lived across the street from each other 34 years ago, when I was 4. She has made this year possible on all those major life events by listening to tour planning over the phone, waiting at the hospital, and helping hang pictures on blank walls.

hearts-and-earsEars and hearts

High fives, hugs, and warmest love and gratitude to the ears and hearts that came to my shows on the album release tour. It was quite possibly the best tour of my 10-year touring life and I couldn’t pick out a favourite city or town if I had to, it was simply a run of incredible, open-hearted people. Thank you for listening, thank you for singing along, thank you for showing up! Singing for people is a weird and wonderful job and I love doing it with you.

4panel_2halfmoonPockets_EcoWalletIt’s hard to reconcile the fourth Christa Couture album with its accompanying press release; if you’ve read about her personal history and you know that this is a break-up album, then you could be forgiven for expecting Leonard Cohen meets Jackson Browne, but “Long Time Leaving” certainly doesn’t fit that mould. Lyrically, it’s a very honest portrayal of a breakup, tapping in to all aspects of the end of a relationship, including the opportunities for experimentation presented to the newly-uncoupled. Even when a song’s subject matter’s dark, the musical arrangements can be quite upbeat, even jaunty, with an eclectic mix of musical stylings and a clear, intimate vocal hinting at early Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos.

The musicianship is superb throughout the album; Gary Craig (drums) and John Dymond (basses) along with producer Steve Dawson (guitars and keys) with a guest appearance from renowned Nashville fiddler Fats Kaplin, shift seamlessly from style to style as they build an evocative backdrop for Christa’s vocals. “Zookeeper” is a perfect example of this; the arrangement builds around a heavily reverbed guitar to create a dramatic, doom-laden setting for a song portraying a couple’s counsellor as a zookeeper forcing them to face up to the wild animals that symbolise the reasons for their breakup.

Alone in This” is pure Nashville, with pedal steel throughout, topped off with a beautiful solo, while “Lovely Like You” bounces along with help of Fats Kaplin’s fiddle fills and the call and response between fiddle, vocals and slide resonator. These are all elements that you wouldn’t be surprised to find on any Americana record, but there’s a joker in the pack as well. There are occasional flashes of musical theatre breaking through in the instrumental arrangements and the vocal delivery. In the lines ‘The hallways are lined with boxes neatly stacked/this is what eight years looks like packed’ that open “Separation/Agreement”, there’s a one-beat pause before ‘packed’ that’s pure theatre, and it’s perfect.

“Long Time Leaving” pulls together widely varying musical styles linked by Christa Couture’s fluty voice, inventive lyrics and tales of the aftermath of a breakup. One of her aims was to make an album to accompany doing housework and she’s actually managed to make it work. With a few exceptions, the music is catchy, packed with hooks and upbeat, while Christa avoids the obvious pitfalls of the subject matter by steering clear of the blame culture and exploring areas like binge drinking and sexual experimentation. It’s an intriguing roller-coaster of an album and when you step off at the end of the ride, you’ll feel exhilarated and uplifted. You’ll probably get through the ironing twice as quickly as well.

Long Time Leaving” is released on Black Hen Music (BHCD0079) on Friday May 20th.