Feist: The Reminder

By: Sarah Moore

Admittedly, the first listen to Feist’s The Reminder (Polydor) fell on bored ears. The thought of “the hipster critics’ darling who holds notes for a long time” kept overshadowing the keen songwriting and quirky instrumentation. However, the disc kept finding its way back into the player, and quickly became a steady, trusty favorite. The Reminder is indeed a grower.

Leslie Feist takes folk-pop and adds her own signature, breeding new ground for singer-songwriters. As a whole, The Reminder’s lo-fi sounds make for an album one might expect to uncover in a long-forgotten chest in the attic. The Broken Social Scene-ster packs her latest with several well-known Canadian musicians including BSS bandmates Kevin Drew (who is also her boyfriend), Brendan Canning, and Ohad Benchetrit, as well as Eirik Glambek Bøe of the Kings of Convenience.

Along with the slew of guest musicians, Feist employs a wide array of instrumentation that includes vibraphone, flugelhorn, melodica, harp and cello. Her own banjo shines especially on breakout single “1234,” bringing a down home feeling to the low-key pop song. Even with the barrage of elements, Feist still conveys a stripped-down, organic sensibility. Backed by her crew “Gonzales" a.k.a. Jason Charles Beck, (Peaches) as co-producer, pianist and organist, “Mocky” a.k.a. Dominic Salole on acoustic bass and farfisa, Jesse Baird on drums and Jamie Lidell helping with arrangements, Feist is well-equipped beyond her own capabilities.

Covering Nina Simone’s “Sea-Lion Woman” as “Sealion” is one of Feist's ballsiest maneuvers on this disc. Handclaps and an a cappella chorus of call-and-response artists make this selection unique and minimalist, the tune gaining momentum and intensity as it progresses. Originally based on an old field recording, “See Lyin’ Woman,” the title has changed over time.

Another standout track is Feist’s own “I Feel It All,” a jaunty bit of twang with xylophone-inspired organ. She applies her signature seductive and slightly scratchy purring to the words until she busts out into pristine, self-harmonized vocals. “My Moon My Man” continues the upbeat vibe with a bass-heavy touch that incites head-nods galore. The track ends with the sounds of footsteps running to a haven somewhere in a bird-infested springtime until “The Park” begins. Feist sings the heartfelt lullaby through a vocal filter backed by subtle horns until her (again) signature wavering whole notes get set on repeat.

Going into detail about each track would be tiresome to read but proves tempting. Each selection holds a veritable wealth of distinguishing, engaging features. Listening to the album in chunks and as a whole is a worthy endeavor.

JamBase | Great White North
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[Published on: 8/26/07]

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Andrew W. starstarstarstar Tue 8/28/2007 01:38PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Andrew W.

Great Album...

kirkbrew Tue 8/28/2007 02:11PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Just hit a Starbucks and odds are you will hear this album. Bast thing that can be said about it is that it would make a good soundtrack for a 30-something dinner party. Very little substance.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Tue 8/28/2007 02:27PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

I dig it. Kinda dim with the progression of the way the first couple of tracks are sequenced but once that Nina Simone covers hits, the whole album takes off. I like how it was recorded in some old French mansion and you can hear the acoustics and the birds chirping and stuff.

Kirkbrew, just what does one serve at a 30 something dinner party? In the early 80's all the yuppies went gaga over salsa becasue they thougth it was something new but now, yuppies seem to fancy anything with mango's or avacados in it or anything made in the form of chutney or whatever that assbag Bobby Flay likes to make.

kirkbrew Wed 8/29/2007 08:34AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Mangos or chutney? Not a Bobby Flay fan. I’m more old school with Julia and Jeff Smith. Jamie Oliver is OK.

I shy away from mangos 90% of the time because they are hard as rocks. When I do get them, I mix with, berries, green onions and crushed pink peppercorns (sometimes a little canned chipotle) and use it as a salsa over fish. Then again, my food is a lot better than this album. Instead of Leslie doing Nina Simone, I’ll go for the Nina Simone. The new Prince is also good for those who can’t cook and are looking for musical accompaniment that is as formulaic as their food.

I have to agree that the ambience of the recording was done very well. You can pick up some of this on the Kevin Drew album too, but it comes off better with Reminder.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 8/29/2007 11:20AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

I can't stand Rachel Ray. She annoys the piss out of me. Most of those Food TV chefs are all too celebrtiy like and all fashionable and all of their food is too glitzy. Chipolte is played out. I like pablano peppers. They own.

SuperDee Wed 9/5/2007 07:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I am a 30something that enjoys dinner parties and I am hands-down, head over heels in love with this album.