Terri Clark – Northern Girl (CD Single – Review)
Label – 2011 Bare Track Records (In UK under Wrasse Records)
Time – 3:49
Release – 26 April 2011
Writers – Terri Clark, Kristen Hall
Rating (Out of 10): 8/10
‘Northern Girl’ was the first single to be released to Canadian radio preceding the appearance of her brand album ROOTS And WINGS. Born in Montreal and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Terri Clark is no longer on a major and is now an Independent artist with her own label, Bare Track Records, with distribution via EMI Canada. Terri moved to Nashville in 1987, at aged 18, in pursuit of a dream eventually signing with Mercury Records in 1994. She has always retained a loyal and popular fan base in Canada.
Here both celebrates the freedom and pays tribute to her homeland of which she is immensely proud. Terri has a cottage in Canada where she likes to relax. The track encompasses her love of the land and the people around her. Growing up with snow 6 months of the year like many Canadians she learnt how to adapt, toughen up, entertain herself and appreciate who she is.
“Grew up drivin’ on black ice / Spinnin’ in circles under Northern lights / Laughter steamin’, small town dreamin’ / Digging tunnels in the deep snow/ Sheltered from the shiver of a ten below / And I’m right at home,’ ” Clark sings in the opening verse.
The song was inspired by the northern culture looking out across the great lakes in Southern Ontario watching the sunset with the Canadian flag flying. Some of the words are drawn from the national anthem, “O Canada” composed by Calixa Lavalee – “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free“!
Clark asked her good friend Kristen Hall (founding member of the group Sugarland) to assist her with the writing process. Hailing from Michigan Terri knew she would “get it”. Their song camaraderie came about after Kristen came to stay at her Nashville home after the floods in May 2010. The writing was done online using Garageband programs and emailing MP3 files back and forth. A lot of time was spent on the lyrics avoiding the “cheese factor” – Arctic cats and skis didn’t make the cut!
Comparisons can be made with Barbara Mandrell and her song “Country Girl”, the theme to her variety show at the beginning of the 80’s. Mandrell sang: I’m a country girl from head to toe….Now I can find my dreams around the world, But I’ll always be a country girl. (see video).
Similarly Terri sings in the chorus:
I’m a Northern girl, wild and free /I’ve got four strong winds to carry me / I’ve been East to West and all around the world/ But I’ll always be a Northern girl
With reference to those prevailing weather systems “Four Strong Winds” was also a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tyson, a folk classic inspired by the movement of workers with the rotation of the harvest. Other nationals to have recorded it include Neil Young, Hank Snow and Sarah McLachlan.
‘Northern Girl’ packs a punch with driving drum beats and electric guitars riffs that have a vibe reminiscent of Martina McBride’s “This One’s For The Girls”. Steel guitar is thankfully audible in the maple-leaf mix. Terri’s vocal is strong and joyous and with the addition of the “na-na-na-nas” allows for crowd participation at live shows to join in on the celebrations.