#01: Feist - The Reminder
No album affected me musically and emotionally more than this one, and it came out in May. I was fresh from an emotional breakup, my little sister was coming out of a cloistered retreat after three years and I was professionally frustrated.
I was already starting to really love Feist when this album came out. I started listening to Open Season, her remixes album, and hearing her sing so beautifully on the Kings of Convenience's Riot on an Empty Street. Finally I got her real album Let It Die and it broke my heart a good 40 or 50 times. I was going through some romantic nonsense and it just poked the wound so lovingly I couldn't help but want more.
Then, The Reminder came out, was released at Starbucks, had the songs My Moon, My Man and 1234 featured in every commercial on the planet, and suddenly Feist was this VH1 soft hit machine who had sold out in every possible way.
I'm here to tell you why I don't care, why I love Feist, and why I think The Reminder was the best album all year.
To me, Feist is one of the finest vocalists of modern pop music. She's like the Bill Evans of vocals. Bill Evans is a jazz pianist. But, he's not all experimental and exciting like Theloneous Monk. His piano playing is so gentle, that if you're not paying attention, it sounds like he's playing the most generic of lounge music. It's background music. It's elevator music. But, people who listen closer hear something so passionate and exciting. Bill Evans plays like he doesn't care if you're there or not, and within his form of gentle piano music, he makes an entire expressive world.
Feist is like that... although she can be thrilling even on first listen. Take a song on Reminder, for instance, like Limit to your Love. This is the pinnacle of the album, in my opinion. She plays guitar sexily in perfect accord with the longing in her song. She hits vocal heights and croons softly in the same song. She accuses and pleads. She sounds like she's coming to the realization that "I can't read your smile, it should be written on your face, I'm pieceing it together, there's something out of place." while the song actually wears on.
Even though there's songs like My Moon, My Man, which was made to be a Zune commercial (but it really a hell of a song, and has a great video of its own), there's a totally uncompromising song like the very next one on the album "The Park" where she sings, almost a capella, with only birds chirping in the background, in a song almost like "Nothing Compares 2 U", chastising herself for walking back through the park, because she walked back through the park. She thought she saw her lover there, but of course it wasn't him, of course "it's not him who would come, cross the sea to surprise you, not him who would know, where in London to find you".
To me, The Reminder is almost perfect. It's the incredible blend of her singing, songwriting and guitar playing. If she made a million dollars from Starbucks and the Zune, great. If she puts out another album even half this good, then she's forgiven as far as I'm concerned.
(stay tuned for more 2007 music stuff)