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
Go See Live Music!