Alyse Johnston is a sojourning multi-instrumentalist, KW ex-pat whose roots crawl deep into the local arts community. Having played in acts like Beatrix, Hungry for Vladimir and most recently with the elusive illyk, Johnston demonstrates a rare proclivity for defying genres.  

This time last year, by way of recommendation, I heard Fauna and decided to write my first review about them in 2021. I’m bringing us back full-circle by writing about two singles released by Fauna in 2022.  

Using a minimalistic approach and  loops to create layered compositions that ebb and flow organically, Fauna evokes imagery of nature. In her January 2022 single “Invisalign,” Fauna carries the torch of her debut full length release with a signature organica-pop song featuring glistening keys, heavily reverberated vocals and delicate percussion.  

Displaced keys chime through western-lounge guitars accompanied by sine tickling electronic percussion. Gentle pops and hi-hat hits pierce the melodies, carrying the song into a cold lake of singing corals at the water’s bed.  

Layered vocals and thumping synth bass sit at either end of the sonic spectrum to create a resounding air of Cocteau Twins-esque atmosphere as long-tailed reverb carry backing vocals through an endless cavern.  

“I see you dancing,” sings a voice before indiscernible lines give way to a cactus-surf guitar solo. The guitars sink into a deep sleep as the track falls into its acapella grave.  

Fauna’s March 2022 single, “Solace,” is a departure from her debut full-length and January 2022 single. It is a stripped down, guitar heavy modern-folk dirge.  

The lyrics explore existential themes over gentle, harping guitar codes.  

“Roaming through the valleys–hard to tell each hill apart,” Johnston sings.   

The lines infer a sense of being lost, enforced by the lonely guitar chords, summoning a sense of self in an intimate tangle of twangy riffs and the string scrapes of a tires hand moving sleepily over the fretboard.   

This song is blue. It is a thing of milestones and personal growth. It is blue. It is cold. It is a melancholic piece of music that serves as a milestone in the artist’s maturity as a songwriter, singer and poet.  

Fauna is perched at the cusp of pop sensibility without sacrificing their art form. They continue to grow as an artist and performer, leaving listeners curious for their next ventures.  

Genres: folktronica, pop, canadiana, folk, cactus-surf, mushroom-pop  

Associated Acts: Hungry for Vladimir