Slow-burn­ing plea­sure

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music -

IT’S a rather la­bo­ri­ous or­deal sit­ting through the fifth al­bum from Cana­dian singer Les­lie Feist. Not be­cause its sub­ject mat­ters re­volve around the stuff of despair, lone­li­ness and ro­man­tic dis­ap­point­ment – all heavy top­ics in their own right.

Rather, Plea­sure is a chal­leng­ing record be­cause it rev­els in its pur­suit of min­i­mal­ist melodies. It even gets to the point where the si­lence is iron­i­cally grat­ing.

Lis­ten­ers who tune in ex­pect­ing to find some­thing re­motely catchy like the decade-old 1234 – that plucked the songstress from the ob­scure wa­ters of Cana­dian in­die rock by virtue of an iPod com­mer­cial – will be sorely dis­ap­pointed. Then again, there’s al­ways this no­tion that Feist’s pop-friendly sen­si­bil­i­ties on the breakout al­bum The

Re­minder was more of a phase (one that she boldly de­parted from on 2011 fol­low-up Met­als). There are no im­me­di­ate one-two-punch num­bers on this 11-track of­fer­ing. But Plea­sure’s slow-burn­ing tem­plate can be re­ward­ing at times – if you’re pa­tient enough, that is. When you least ex­pect it, the 41-year-old whips out a de­layed hook af­ter a long streak of lyri­cal lament­ing over at­mo­spheric mu­sic.

Hummable tunes are a rar­ity here, in­stead, you get DIY-like record­ings of a creak­ing floor and a slam­ming door. Get past all those ec­cen­tric­i­ties though, and you’ll find that Feist has crafted a record with plenty of per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions.

Po­etry is in abun­dance in the lyrics, such as that found on the metaphor­i­cal The Wind (“I’m shaped by my storm­ing like they’re shaped by their storm­ing”). The open­ing tit­u­lar num­ber and Cen­tury sees Feist at her rock­ing best.

But the singer-song­writer sounds bet­ter on the qui­eter num­bers, where her lush mourn- that the band may have strayed too far from coun­try mu­sic ter­ri­tory in favour of a more pop, com­mer­cial sound.

Aptly ti­tled Wel­come Home, the 10-track re­lease is an ef­fort to di­min­ish those wor­ries. Mu­si­cally, it is chock-full of both tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary coun­try sounds.

There’s also a sense of whole­some­ness in the al­bum’s over­all themes. Lyri­cally, the band harps on the im­por­tance of home and fam­ily. 2 Places At 1 Time talks about feel­ing torn be­tween want­ing to travel the world and come home. Roots is about never for­get­ting your ori­gins even if you’re far from home.

Mean­while, Fam­ily Ta­ble high­lights the sim­ple but mean­ing­ful ges­ture of hav­ing a meal to­gether as a fam­ily and My Old Man is a beau­ti­ful trib­ute to fa­thers and father fig­ures.

Loaded with tra­di­tional val­ues and tra­di­tional sounds, Zac Brown Band’s Wel­come Home serves to re­mind fans it’s still very much a coun­try band. — Ken­neth Chaw

Feist Plea­sure Uni­ver­sal

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