What happens when you release a new album in the middle of a global crisis? If you’re Laila Biali, you improvise. You adjust, you find opportunity, and you stay positive. Biali’s new recording Out of Dust is a fitting allegory for what’s going on right now. The tunes represent both the triumphs and tragedies in her life over the last few years. Written mostly over a six-day period in Banff, the album reflects on pain — from illness, from suicide, from the unfairness of life and from the state of the world. But emerging through those dark themes is hope, love and the feeling of moving forward. Co-produced by Biali and her husband, drummer Ben Wittman, Out of Dust features guest appearances by the likes of John Ellis, Larnell Lewis and Lisa Fischer. It’s a big-sounding album that touches on many different styles, but at the heart of it is the singer-songwriter herself. There’s beauty in a tune like Wendy, plenty of fun to be had with Sugar, and she offers a terrific take on Gregory Porter’s Take Me to the Alley (the only cover on Out of Dust). This is a wholly confident record from the Juno winner, who continues to be one of the most talented and compelling artists in Canada. Out of Dust is another big step toward global stardom.
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