Victoria, BC singer/songwriter Ethan Caleb is arguably the youngest artist I’ve written about to date - from what I can tell, he’s still in high school. Nevertheless, I find his music extremely compelling. His compositions and lyrics are highly sophisticated, especially for a songwriter of his age. This tension between youth and sophistication infuses his work with an unsettling, haunting poignancy - a wide-eyed naivety foiled at every turn by a pathos-filled, world-weary sadness - that isn’t easily left behind once the music stops.
His songs are minimal, in most cases featuring a single instrument and Ethan’s distinct choir boy in a piano bar vocals. He cites Leonard Cohen as one of his primary influences and includes a cover of Cohen’s “Suzanne” on his Reverb Nation site. His style is clearly influenced by Cohen, but his approach is fresh and original, just the same.
He’s posted a handful of songs to MySpace and Reverb Nation. Of these, I find myself repeatedly drawn back to “After the City,” an eccentric acoustic guitar and vocal piece that is emblematic of his emerging style.
In addition to Ethan’s solo work he sings for a band calling itself The Shenanigans, also from Victoria. Judging from the song sample on The Shenanigans’ Reverb Nation site, Ethan is not only a talented singer and songwriter, but also a very powerful and versatile rock vocalist, as well.