Hilary Grist: Come & Go

Ghostly vocals, dense emotions

Hilary Grist. Photo by Jennifer Picard.

It is such a rarity to come across a robust, cohesive album – one in which each song truly sounds like it has been handpicked and nurtured by the artist. Canadian singer-songwriter Hilary Grist’s enchanting alt pop album, Come & Go, is one such anomaly.

Come & Go is the Vancouver-based artist’s second full-length record, four years in the making since her debut release Imaginings, but it is well worth the wait. The melodic artistry that Grist shows in her new album reflects the songstress’ years of training and honing of musical skills, having formally taken music lessons growing up, as well studying jazz at Capilano University.

Grist’s airy voice is ethereal and lends a transcendental quality to her music, but her songwriting is universally relatable and poignantly human.

Her songs play like soundtracks to life, making them very à propos for television. She has notably had songs featured in the past in shows such as Grimm, Being Human, and the ever-popular Canuck teen drama Degrassi.

The title track of the album, for instance, with its running upbeat rhythm and lyrics that are inquisitive and uncertain (“Am I supposed to be tough now and turn my insides out / For how long?”) sounds like a song that could easily be on the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film.

The tracks in Come & Go are melodically light and pleasant to the ear, yet simultaneously dense with emotion. Each song distinctly carries its own atmosphere, as if each were a living, breathing being, coming forth with its own story to tell.

The hauntingly melancholic “Goodbye Ghost” is about a defeated lover learning to forsake the past, “Do I fly or do I fall / Push away or hold close? / I don’t feel free, just terrified / Let’s quit so we don’t have to try.”

“The Trade,” on the other hand, sounds like the story of one faced with indecision about their feelings, pensively echoing the phrase “What would you trade for love?”over rich rhythmic percussion.

It is amazing how someone who can write such heartrending music could at the same time include within the same album a song as delightfully bubbly as the track “With You.” With words as adorable and endearing as “you lit the match / In the middle of my heart / Now I can’t tell, I can’t tell / Where you end and where I start”; and an infectious chorus, Grist knows how to lighten the mood with a cheerful song.

Overall, Come & Go is a body of art. Grist showcases her abilities in the record well, artfully using her music as a vessel for expressing universal emotions. Even a listener who hasn’t encountered her previous works can immediately appreciate her talent just from listening to this album alone.