There was much laughter and excitement running through the crowd of performers, friends, fans, and family members at the UTM Music Club’s release of The Original Chords: Volume 2. This year’s album launch event, held in the acoustically pleasing CC 1080 on Friday, featured live performances by the musicians on the album.

The Original Chords: Volume 2 is a compilation of 15 tracks written and performed by UTM musicians. UMC’s secretary, Doaa Khan Rohillah, said, “All the songs are original compositions by the artists themselves. It’s amazing how much talent is on campus. This CD launch is great way to showcase that talent.” Some of the artists from last year’s CD were asked to contribute again, including LaserSharp (Vinh Nguyen), Andrew Wilson, and Michael McTavish. UMC worked with CFRE to record the album, while producer Kaizn Beats of Think Militant Records mixed the songs.

Like last year, proceeds from the launch’s admission tickets, wristbands, raffle tickets, and album sales were forwarded to the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund. “They’re an organization that we as a club truly believe in,” said Rohillah. “We all use music as a means of therapy and the fact that this organization goes beyond that is just astonishing.”

Rohillah and UMC co-president Zain Ali Shah hosted the event, introducing each musician with humour, charm, and enthusiasm. Shah also contributed a track. All the performances were impressive and the talent was undeniably enviable, but a couple of acts stood out to me as especially noteworthy.

New Dimension (Daniel Salvador) started off the performances with a pulsing, bassy electronic track that he had composed a couple of years ago. On an acoustic guitar, Caspian Sawczak performed an original composition called “Bring the Rain Back”, an emotional song about longing brought to life by Sawczak’s strong voice. Sawczak also performed on last year’s CD. The melodious and slow piano song “Resurgence” by the talented LaserSharp was also a highlight for me.

I couldn’t resist swaying back and forth to former UMC executive Andrew Wilson’s “A Lighthouse Called the Moon”. This emotional “story song” tells of the musician’s own struggles with growing up through metaphor, and Wilson’s lyrics were impressive. Saba Khan, one of UMC’s executive event coordinators, performed “My Darling”, a tune composed for the friends and family who inspire her to persevere that was also impossible not to sway to. Her acoustic guitar playing was soft and smooth with a clear, beautiful, melodic voice to match. Yalla Yalla (Joe Measures and Ronny ElShabassy) featuring Wilson left me wanting to hear more from the trio and their dreamy, folksy sound. They used acoustic guitars, a xylophone, a drum, and their voices to create harmonies and layers that blew me away.

There’s an incredible amount of talent recorded on The Original Chords: Volume 2 and it’s not to be missed. The album can still be purchased from the UMC office for $5.

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