Most people are probably jealous of Feist. As a globe-trotting artist she’s had the chance to play shows around the world, both as a solo-artist and with Broken Social Scene, not to mention the time she has spent living and recording in France. But as her third album highlights, now out on Arts & Crafts, all of this travel has come at a high price. The Reminder shows the lonely life of the internationally popular musician who tries, unsuccessfully, to juggle their love life and career.
It’s fairly easy to play connect the dots with the lyrics to look into the mindframe of Feist during the writing of the record, which was mostly done on the road while touring. Opener “So Sorry” brings in the themes of distance loneliness from the outset (“No one knows where the shore is/We’re divided by the ocean”), which is continued throughout the album in tracks like “The Park” (“It’s not him who’ll come across the sea to surprise you/Not him who would know where in London to find you”). “My Moon My Man” has a small dose of self-mockery as Feist croons to the moon, the one constant in her rapid life.
As The Reminder shows, stardom has come at a high price for Feist. However, she can take some solace in the fact that all of the heartache has led to the creation of a truly stunning album. Listening to the thirteen tracks on the new album, her voice is the first thing to stand out. After becoming familiar with Let It Die for the past couple of years, The Reminder gives the listener a chance to be in awe of her vocal prowess all over again. Even with all the touring she has done, her vocals have not suffered because of it, sounding natural and unforced throughout the album.
While most of The Reminder consists of a solid array of slow, softly illuminated numbers in the uniquely Feistian form, there are enough poppy and offbeat numbers to add variation in the album. “1234” (video) and “I Feel It All” are the songs that “Mushaboom” fans will cling to, while “Honey Honey” and the cover of Nina Simone’s “Sea Lion Woman” are for those looking for a bit of an avant sound. The biggest complaint from casual listeners will be that there is no equivalent to “Inside And Out,” but who wants the same album formula repeated again?
While the album occassionally slips too close to adult-contemporary (especially “Brandy Alexander,” co-penned by Ron Sexsmith), the production tries to avoid this by not sounding overtly smooth. Sure, you’ll still probably end up hearing a song or two played on a soft-rock station somewhere, but that’s no reason to dismiss the album. It’s a stirring, honest album that will keep Feist on the road for many more years.
Feist plays Massey Hall on Friday, May 25th and Saturday, May 26th. The Reminder can be heard, in full, on her MySpace page.