New Release Roundup: Norma MacDonald, ROKI, Kayla Williams, & Jimmy Rankin

Norma MacDonald

Indie Folk Pop

“The Heart Wants”

On her sixth album, singer-songwriter Norma MacDonald delves into fresh songwriting techniques, reinterprets earlier demos, and engages in endearing sound experimentations. She pushes the boundaries of her folk and country roots to incorporate elements of 60s pop, Motown harmonies, and the jangly indie-rock of the early 2000s, creating a very concise sound all her own.

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Written more than a decade ago in 2011, “The Heart Wants” didn’t quite align with her musical direction at the time when she released her third album, Morning You Wake. Over the years, MacDonald attempted various rearrangements and production approaches for the song, yet it never seemed to click.

MacDonald’s band and producer, Dan Ledwell, persevered and brought her vision to fruition, capturing that elusive dreamy indie folk sound that had kept slipping through their grasp, finally seeing the light of day on September 8th.

“The Heart Wants”



“The One”

Alternate pop artist ROKI embarked on her musical journey at a young age, using it as a creative escape, and would later lead several bands. While creating her debut solo album, Mother, ROKI encountered the most profound changes and tribulations of her life: embracing motherhood while mourning the loss of her own mother. The latter thrust her into a somber abyss, and in her quest to navigate the labyrinth of grief, she channeled her emotions into her music.

Looking ahead, ROKI plans to unveil a new song every couple of months leading up to early 2024 when her EP, Lovable, will drop. The EP signifies a fresh musical chapter for ROKI, characterized by dreamier, more radiant, and “love-infused” compositions that brim with optimism.

The lead single, “The One,” delves into the experience of witnessing a loved one silently bear the weight of their pain to protect you from sharing in their suffering. ROKI penned this track as an ode to reassure those who find themselves in such situations that it’s okay to grapple with hurt. She encourages open and honest communication with your partner, no matter the cause of your pain, assuring that your loved ones will stand by your side.

“The One”

Kayla Williams

Soul Pop

“Come Close”

Calgary-based Kayla Williams emerges as a soulful yacht-pop songstress, paying her respects to the soft rock royalty of the ’70s; a pantheon that includes legends like TOTO, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, and the Doobie Brothers. 

As a seasoned artist, Williams infuses her music with a bold and unabashed feminine sensibility, breathing new life into the genre. She offers a spirited and uplifting tribute to the past, radiating a resplendent, glittering energy that captures the essence of positivity.

“I wanted to write a really upbeat, catchy and danceable tune with a retro feel but through a pop filter,” says Williams about the track. “Lyrically, it’s about those good chemicals you get flooded with when someone you’re into comes close. It’s lovey-dovey, flirty, and one of the most feel-good songs I’ve ever written.”

“Come Close”

Jimmy Rankin


“Harvest Highway”

Jimmy Rankin hits the road again in his new single, “Harvest Highway” which cruised to streaming platforms September 7th. In this inspirational adventure, he weaves his way through time and diverse locales, including Nova Scotia, all through his distinctive blend of East Coast folk-rock. 

With a nostalgic tip of the hat to Nova Scotia’s Highway 101, which meanders through the fertile Annapolis Valley and along the picturesque southern shores of the Bay of Fundy, his upcoming album’s evocative title track captures the essence of the open road, infused with Americana undertones and a reflective gaze that splits its focus between the asphalt ahead and the figurative rearview mirror.

When composing “Harvest Highway,” Rankin teamed up with fellow East Coast musician Joel Plaskett, who not only served as producer but also played multiple instruments on the project. Recorded using vintage microphones and the expertise of engineer Thomas Stajcer, the upcoming album benefits from the musical contributions of an ensemble cast, including JP Cormier, Ron Hynes, Dale Murray, Jordan Murphy, and Madison Violet.

The album drops October 13th.

“Harvest Highway”

Featured photo: Norma MacDonald // Photo by Megan Tansey-Whitton

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