What’s new is new again as Calgary artist JJ Shiplett reworks five-month old EP for the pandemic age

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“That’s been my reality for the past six months,” says Shiplett.  “I’ve created music my whole life with the intention that it would move me to my next moment and help move my career further along. Now I’m recognizing that I just want to create music. That I really just like singing and playing guitar. That’s one thing I’ve learned through this COVID pandemic: I don’t know what’s left out there for a career. I don’t know what it looks like anymore and how we’re going to figure it out. I really like playing guitar and singing. That was the whole point of this record. It’s been what I’ve been doing. It’s my reality. I’ve been sitting at home playing guitar. I just wanted to create that feeling, that sound.”

The intimate vibe starts early.  Waiting on the Rain is a soaring and lushly produced ballad that opened Fingers Crossed in a suitably melodramatic manner. On Crossed Fingers, it begins with some rustling and what sounds like the creaking of a chair before Shiplett offers a even moodier, more hushed interpretation.  Freeman,  a shuffling mid-tempo tune with echoey vocals on Fingers Crossed, becomes a mournful Springsteen-esque harmonica-and-guitar folk number. Closer, which was a brooding slow-burn rocker on the original, gets similar treatment.

In fact, Springsteen’s stark 1982 classic Nebraska is a good reference point for the EP, which also occasionally recalls exquisite downers such as Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago or Joe Henry’s Shuffletown.

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