Dinah Thorpe - 12

To say that Toronto indie chanteuse Dinah Thorpe defies easy categorization is to misunderstand the word "easy". Listening to 12, Thorpe's provocative and supremely artful new album officially arriving stateside next week, everything -- and we mean everything -- seems to come rather easy, actually, to this chameleon-like songwriter and instrumentalist. It's just that any concept of genre barrier means nothing. Country? Pop? Moody cabaret? Folk? Jazz? It's all up for grabs in this remarkable production. Thorpe has drawn comparisons to Laurie Anderson -- for her smart, theatrical spoken-word tracks set to an electro-beat pulse (see: "Weird", a "song" unlike any you'll hear this or any year). Also, Beth Orton, for the droll, simply laid out alto vocals and spare folk-tronica structures behind songs such as "Every Bit Hurts" and "In The Country". In the end, however, comparisons come down to just so much drivel when searching for the right words to define or describe an artist -- and we do mean artist -- like Thorpe and her 12 fascinating songs. Peel back the layers, dig below the surface -- and then...just keep peeling and digging. That's half the fun. See what we mean when you tackle "Dolly Parton" -- a brilliant bit o' surreal alt-pop that takes a banjo-backed ditty and turns it into the oddest, most understated blues boogie imaginable.

Dinah Thorpe - "Dolly Parton" (from 12)

Dinah Thorpe - "Every Bit Hurts" (from 12)