The Vanishing Act

by Inna Powell

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about

Toronto band Inna Powell’s debut does not just introduce the words and music of a talented young songwriter, it announces them, shouts it like gospel, forces you to listen, you too, yeah you, grips you by the neck with its confidence, its clarity, its vision. This is music that cannot be denied. This is music that is sometimes brash, sometimes beautiful, but always, at its core, vulnerable and naked and bare. This is Inna Powell.

The opener, “I Know You Pray To God,” is indie folk meditation on faith and family, or maybe the lack thereof, and though it’s hardly religious it’s got a heckuva hook repeating throughout like the responsorial psalms at a Sunday service. It’s Inna Powell as preacher, with a vocal performance clear and captivating, delivered like a sermon. Then the full band arrives with the chorus, triumphantly, and you throw yer hands in the air, join the congregation.

“Helping Put Your Dress On” is sensual and sexual with a slick lick and a deep bass groove and a vocal that somehow seems both confident and shy all at once. It melds jazzy drums and a haunting organ into a soundtrack for the night: dark, sly, mysterious; it’s the sound of the curiosity that takes over when the lights turn off.

“The Vanishing Act” opens with banjos and guitars plucking and picking a four-chord pattern that gallops with urgency like horses in a Wild West train robbery. But it is no mere cowboy cliché: in comes the band; the violins shriek their lonesome mourn; the drums pump out a steady hip hop beat; the poetic and political lyrics get spit out with unexpected rhymes and undeniable power. Then the chorus hits, and it is clear this is the full realization of one young man reckoning with who he is and where he is and why he is and when he is, taking all he has seen and done and distilling it down into this, his statement, his song. This is not just the set’s best track: it is Inna Powell standing on a soapbox that he built himself, with his bare hands, over many years, speaking what he needs to say in the way he needs to say it. Like Dylan’s “Rolling Stone” or Kurt’s “Teen Spirit,” this is his anthem.

The EP ends with “When I Was Younger,” a quiet and restrained but painfully beautiful track. With gorgeously subtle fingerpicked acoustic and lyrics delivered in a murmur so quivering you can hear the tears trying desperately to be held back. Inna Powell delivers the kind of performance that can only come from one who has loved and lost; it is the sound of true pain. Examining the tragedy of a life gone far too soon, this song will shatter your heart.

Inna Powells calls this The Vanishing Act, but like the work of any great magician the name is only a distraction; by the time you think you’re seeing the trick the sleight-of-hand has already happened. This is no disappearance. It is the exact opposite. He is here, fully realized. This is an appearance. This is Inna Powell.

- Written by Ryan Gaio

credits

released June 10, 2016

All songs written, engineered, and produced by Inna Powell
Violin and backing vocals by Vale Abbott
Mastered by George Graves at Lacquer Channel Mastering
Artwork by Mikey Karpiel

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about

Inna Powell Toronto, Ontario

Inna Powell is a Toronto-based indie rock/alt-folk artist whose intense and engrossing performances contrast their anxious and soft-spoken offstage persona. While the songwriting is grounded in traditional folk arrangements, Powell fuses diverse influences-ranging from spoken word and bluegrass to hip-hop and emo–to present a unique musical soundtrack that varies from one composition to the next. ... more

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Track Name: I Know You Pray To God
I Know You Pray To God

I heard you speak when you thought I was asleep.
Giving your thanks like as if you said,
I’ve got my friends, but they’re no one you know,
and family, but none that know me well.

tell me again whom you are a child to
name me a friend someone you can’t lose
show me the right stranger on the street
and when you speak know that I’ve got mine

I know you pray to God
But I know a better father
I know you pray to God
But I know a better mother
I know you pray to God
But I know a better sister
I know you pray to God
But I know a better brother

She cut your hair when you were a child
The way you like a little off the side
Drove you to school and tucked you in at night
Kept on the light to make sure you were fine

Bare feet and loose clothes that she would clean
And wiped your tears when the other kids were mean
and we will walk like young men and women
Someone might die but it won’t be me

I know you pray to God
But I know a better father
I know you pray to God
But I know a better mother
I know you pray to God
But I know a better sister
I know you pray to God
But I know a better brother

Into the night that’s always there for me
the dirt and loose earth slips off my feet
I fell asleep somewhere
but don’t look for me, you will not find me there

I know you pray to God
But I know a better father
I know you pray to God
But I know a better mother
I know you pray to God
But I know a better sister
I know you pray to God
But I know a better brother
Track Name: Helping Put Your Dress On
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on

Windows shake from passing cars
CDs skip, repeating parts.
We’re hummingbirds, we’re small talk,
never know the words, hollow thoughts.

Pulling in your hips, kissing your mouth
Nothing to be figured out
My fluttered little heart
Flecks feathers slowly apart

Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on

Parting your hair around your face
Slipping the hairpins into place
Are these the days that I would replay?
Moments I remember when we fade away

Heavy heart, another ticker-taught part
Our flirting feelings, let’s stay in the dark.
But I’m pretty sure I’ve always heard
Someone calling my name when I stood

Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Helping put your dress on
Track Name: The Vanishing Act
I’m sorry I’m so difficult to talk to, sometimes my mouth doesn’t open when I want to, and if you don’t mind I could use some help, there’s just nothing in my head for my mind to speak out
and so I’m milking the liquor, slipping the features, slurring my speech with my friends John and Laurie, the rest is easy but they trill and chirr like insects and birds. I won’t eat though it hurts cause
loss of weight and thoughts of hunger replace thoughts of dying when I’m lost for words until I’m home, although I was alone when I was a kid, I said I’d be okay, or at least I thought I did.
But on this stage looking down ‘cause just being in here, makes my fucking heart pound, holding my head down, hope I don’t drown, my eyes are closed now, and waiting for this fucking shit to calm down…fuck

The calculated clangour clings close too close to home, so console me I was never made of stone, so come close come close, and when I’m asleep and longer not running, the cowboys are coming

My vision barrels, coil of a snail shell. I clear my throat but I still can’t breathe for most of it. I did what I could but honestly I just stopped trying to feel good.
I’m copyrighting my counterculture, this is my vanishin’ act I can’t take the weight I’m underneath, my lungs collapse, heavy steps, I starve myself to lose the weight in my chest. My cribbed heart, the grips of the rib cage, I take apart them, the apartheid, the post partum. Rip me open, free the tension in my chest to hear the sound the pound of my oil drum. Budum budum the dread that makes my heart beat out. Budum budum the the feeling that I can live without, liquid efflux rush, tooth crushed, copeless, hopeless, head rush, shush

The calculated clangour clings close too close to home, so console me I was never made of stone, so come close come close, and when I’m asleep and longer not running, the cowboys are coming
Track Name: When I Was Younger
My brother died when I was younger the look my mother made
I remember the call that told us you just wanted to come home
You lived young for a child she only had you for a while
I never asked to be anything, wasted my life and I’d never want another (without)

I’m almost the age when you died, always thought I’d feel the same as you
I remember when I told him I loved him and it felt so strange
Now all I do is play it over again and wish I said it to him more
But all that I ever wonder is that you’re my oldest brother and I’ll never have another

And all that I can ever think of is how awful it is to no longer be a mother