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Behold the latest album by infamous boozy West Coast chanteuse Carolyn Mark, The Queen of Vancouver Island, recorded over the course of five sessions during the winter of 2011-12 with guest appearances from the tops in the field. One can’t help thinking this is the one! The mysterious “Poor Farmers” opens with a voice coming through an old telephone, fully materializing with the backing of an acoustic guitar; a beautifully sparse rallying call with stand-up bass and sweet harmonies courtesy of Terri Upton. Laden with instruments, the title track gives the impression that Mark just couldn’t stop inviting people over to join in the fun. When was the last time you heard cello (Hank Pine), harmonica (Paul Henry Oppers) and viola (Rachelle Reath) together with a “Sha-la-la-la” chorus and wailing guitar (Tolan McNeil)? “Best Friend,” recorded by Victoria’s meticulous Myke Hall, features The New Best Friends—drummer Juli Steemson laying down a funky disco beat over which a pair of guitars duke it out—while “Mellie’s Book” sounds like Sarah Harmer meets Pavement. “Not Like the Movies” is a tribute to the real-life world of being a full-time touring musician. In films they always omit the loading out and packing the van scenes. And dig that angular guitar line! The album ends with the inevitable descent from Queen to Whore through a pair of songs. “(We Weren’t Always) Old Whores” is a lament begging forgiveness of the former self for falling short of youthful expectations. “You’re Not a Whore (If No One’s Paying)”—which could be about the music business, or any business, really—features not only tasteful trombone (Allen Pleasants) and gargle solos but a children’s chorus. Mark allegedly “borrowed” kids from her brother and Vancouver musical friends The Burnettes, stood them around microphones and had them sing “You’re not a horse if no one’s neighing,” and paid them in ice cream.