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Greg Janssen Sings The Songs From Animal Pharmacy And Other Popular Favourites
At Toronto's 2014 SummerWorks Performance Festival, the world got its first taste of Animal Pharmacy: A Medicine Show, singer-songwriter Greg Janssen's oddball musical comedy satire of the pharmaceutical industry. Inspired by The Threepenny Opera—by way of Urinetown—and based in part on the artist's own persistent struggles with depression, the show followed the exploits of Doc Holiday, a snake-oil salesman turned pharmaceutical tycoon who is perhaps more than a little Trumpian, building itself around a set of songs which Mooney On Theatre praised as "beautifully written, with on-point lyrics that were of a calibre that would rival any top musical."
With Greg Janssen Sings the Songs from Animal Pharmacy and Other Popular Favourites, the artist is pleased to finally collect the show's fifteen original compositions into a single indie pop playlist. Offering a multiplicity of musical ideas and lyrical voices, within the bounds of a Neil Young-meets-showtunes musical aesthetic, the songs manage to hit dramatic heights while maintaining a modest, even minimalistic scale, many clocking in at less than two minutes. If nothing else, the new record's stylistic variety proves Allan Wigney's early assertion, writing in the Ottawa Sun, that Janssen "covers more ground in five songs than many a band has mustered over the course of a decades-long career."
Janssen produced and mixed the record himself, drawing on a DIY technique honed over the course of several self-released EPs stretching all the way to 2008's FACTOR-funded Urban Aesthetic EP. That record, released during the artist's time in the Ottawa, earned him solid press, rotation on CBC and college radio, and a Dan Mangan cover of "See The Sunshine Through The Haze". Touring throughout Quebec and Ontario followed, culminating in an unplayed showcase NXNE '09 and an unfortunately fruitless recording expedition to Marin County, California.
Relocating to Toronto, Janssen continued to work on his songcraft while working as a traveling Librarian with the Toronto Public Library's Bookmobile. In 2012 the FX Network's Around The Next Bend picked up his "Heavier Than Heaven" to play over the closing credits of its final episode. In 2014, Animal Pharmacy: A Medicine Show was born.
Janssen continues to develop the show and pursue production opportunities thanks in part to the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council. The release of Greg Janssen Sings the Songs from Animal Pharmacy and Other Popular Favourites signal a reboot of the artist's career, with more releases and live appearances to follow.