Since arriving in Toronto in 2012, Merival has been a figure on the Canadian indie scene and has collaborated with artists including Torquil Campbell from Stars and Darren Seltmann from The Avalanches. ‘Lovers’ is her debut EP and in her words is ‘shaped by relationships and reflection, finding beauty and transformation in heartache’. All written before she was 20 years old, the songs belie her tender age and have a touch of Laura Marling or Marika Hackman about them.
The gentle introduction to ‘A Better Deal’ gives you a good idea of what’s to come – heartfelt and quite beautiful songs that discuss a range of issues that affect us all. Full of picturesque and visceral lyrics about snow falling, Merival asks the song’s subject if they’d follow her wherever she went ad then as the narrative moves on and her frustrations get larger, she can’t help but question: ‘DO you ever unwind, is it all for show?’ Laced in gorgeous harmonies, the low-key keyboards add an extra element of depth. ‘Alay Alas’ follows and this has a far more upbeat – almost joyous – opening. It’s very short but this condensed running time does not stop Merival saying everything she needs to. It’s a very lyrical set of songs which is sure to be rewarded on repeated listens, and who can’t connect with lines like: ‘Somewhere I know a door is closed but I intend to breathe through the cracks’.
‘Kickin You Out’ has a slow-burning introduction as Merival reveals the hopes and dreams she had with an unrequited crush in her teenage years: ‘I wanna be famous some day and I wanna make good, steady pay and I’m thinking of kicking you out’ – it’s song that looks at how things may be best left to fantasy and even then you can still have dreams bugged down in reality. As well as this, it’s a cutting break-up song that seems to touch upon wanting to move on after the spark with a loved one has died out: ‘I’d like a wordless vacation for one’. Some of the harmonies on the EP are out of their world and the closing ‘Calendar’ again seems to touch on the subject of finding your feet: ‘Tease and teach me how to be a lady, I know I’m not’. A very talented songwriter who you can’t help but fall for, Merival is marvellous.