Album Review :: Dana Gavanski :: When It Comes

by Myles Tiessen

When It Comes is a passage into a fantasy world. Dana Gavanski has long been lauded for her ability to convey deeply intimate emotions through the power of melody.

Her latest album uses those powers to transport the listener into an entirely different realm. From the first glimmering piano ballad of “I Kiss The Night,” Gavanski brings us down the rabbit hole into a world filled with imaginative and extravagant sonic offerings. With a melody like a lullaby and introspective lyrics, “I Kiss The Night” dazes the listener into a captivating trance that remains throughout the entirety of When It Comes

The Vancouver-raised artist has firmly cemented herself as one of the foremost indie-pop artists working in Canada. Gavanski uses When It Comes to push her ambitions into the stratosphere. The record simultaneously sounds intimate and omnipotent—personal yet universal. 

There are moments on When It Comes where it feels as if you are stepping into the inquisitive reverie of a poet. The song “Lisa,” for instance, is a meditative examination of the natural world, written from the viewpoint of the sea. “I watch you roam the streets, a frown upon your face/ Chasing after days that melt behind,” sings Gavanski through a lush wall of synthesizers. As the chorus builds, a looping guitar riff lulls you into the track, and you can practically feel the ocean waves beneath your feet. 

One highlight of When It Comes is “Bend Away and Fall.” At some points, sounding truly medieval, and at others, diving into science fiction, the track glides in an ethereal, timeless space. Gavanski’s vocals twirl and spin in the atmosphere, entangling with the equally evocative instrumentation. “I give a chance to experience as they bend away and fall,” sings Gavanski in a nursery rhyme-like fashion. 

Gavanski’s poetry is a little harder to audit than her objectively beautiful melodies. Her metaphysical syntax is like reading through hazy glasses. It’s generally hard to interpret individual lines, but broad, comprehensive readings make it all crystal clear: “Love, reach inside the rhyme/ Oh love/ Love, oh you are not mine/ Oh love/ I watch the space, the bending frame,” Gavanski sings on “Under the Sky.” 
While each track on When It Comes” has its own aura—“The Day Unfolds” sounds like a Super Mario score until it dissolves into free-form jazz—they all seem to work concurrently in service of the album’s larger vision. All tracks live somewhere in Wonderland and are unrelenting in their poignant instrumentation and lyrical affectation.