Leslie Feist escaped Toronto. The Canadian-born singer honed her craft in the city’s club scene - ultimately to resounding Indie-success. She has released one exceptional full length, has sung with The New Deal, and has landed a deal with Arts & Crafts Records (Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle) - one of Toronto’s most successful local labels. Feist became a mainstay in Toronto, known and revered by the local club community as well as by the major labels that continually backed her. Yet, Toronto is a cut-throat musical city that takes its toll on the original musician, testing their resolve as well as their creativity. Leslie Feist succeeded. Her syrupy vocals that are just as much Nina Simone as Grace Slick combined with soulful songwriting and clever back-up musicians have propelled her to success. Still, Feist relocated to the artistic haven of Paris, underwent a musical regeneration, and documented it with the Parisian soaked Let it Die.
With the title Let it Die, I was expecting a much darker and more foreboding disc. After many listens, that initial expectation could not be further from the truth. Let it Die is a quietly uplifting journey from the onset, drenched with the Parisian soul that drips from every cup of café au lait sipped patiently on a cobblestone patio. The rockier edge that encrusted Feist’s Toronto output is replaced with a chilled out, eclectic world-beat influence that pours from the vents of every café that dots Paris’ famous artistic alleyways. Reserved, thoughtful musicianship, Brazilian bossa-nova, Cabaret, samba, and Air-influenced electro ambience color Let it Die, swirling around the whispery, windy vocals that have carried Feist throughout her career. “Mushaboom” is a lightly dusted funk affair as airy and filling as a beignet while “Lonely Lonely," entraps Feist’s emotively captivating croon within a copycat acoustic guitar that wafts over dark string arrangements and tasteful harp and keyboard interplay. Every note is played for a reason, creating an extremely mature listen that beams European chic through and though. There is no Canadian adolescent rock angst, but rather poignant production, reminiscent of the Gotan Project or Claude Challe, elevating the listen under the power of Feist’s sultry vocals.
Let it Die sounds like Paris. Feist gladly lets go of her Canadian past, fully embracing the influences fed on the artsy charm that breezes through her Parisian flat. Probably the reasoning behind the title, the abandonment of the Canadian aesthetic is refreshing, much like the magical city itself. This collection is the true sound of Paris, germinated from the pen of a transplanted Canadian. As a Canadian, she is supposed to be linguistically and culturally bilingual anyways.
JamBase | Canada
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