Feist busts out some left-field guitar work with her new album, Pleasure. This record is far removed from the perfect retro pop of 1 2 3 4. (Photo submitted)

Street Sounds: Feist shows folky grit

Leslie Feist’s fourth album, Pleasure, is an inventive excursion through raw sounds

Dean Gordon-Smith

Morning Star columnist

Leslie Feist’s fourth album, Pleasure, is an inventive excursion through raw sounds.

The Canadian singer-songwriter busts out some left-field guitar work that lights some songs afire (Pleasure, I Wish I Didn’t Know You) with an expressive bark.

Pleasure is reflective and personal but appealingly so. This record is far removed from the perfect retro pop of 1 2 3 4. As great as that song was, it’s everywhere-at-once presence was of the type that could put a singer in a box. Feist’s versatility and range aren’t easily contained, even though it took a four-year layoff to get new music going.

There aren’t any anthems here, and that translates to an album without distraction and an overall mood of folky melancholia and grit. On tracks like Lost Dreams, Feist pares down the production and lets her voice act out the soundscape. She shines as a singer here, showing an interpretive side of her voice only hinted at before.

There’s a dreamy beauty to some songs, but there’s lots of rough-hewn music to balance it out. Some of these are driven by Feist’s attack heavy guitar playing (Any Party) and the interplay of vocal and guitar give the album its mystery and power.

Co-producers Mocky and Renaud Letang don’t crowd Feist’s songs, and the effect is a hybrid Canadiana-Americana vibe that’s not particularly faithful to the rules of either sensibility. A psychedelic breeze moves through tracks like The Wind, contributing to the elusive spirit. On songs like Century, she sounds like a honey-toned PJ Harvey wailing over a Neolithic ceremonial beat and just plain world weary on the edgy country blues, I’m Not Running Away.

Pleasure is an artistic left turn into wild lands for Feist, and she’s shifting unknown gears here.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.