Music Review: 'Pleasure,' Feist

May 1, 2017
Originally published on May 1, 2017 5:42 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

After a six-year hiatus, Canadian singer Feist is back. She's out with her fifth album. It's called "Pleasure," but that's a bit of a misdirection. Reviewer Tom Moon says the album explores the quest for inner-strength in the painful aftermath of romance.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: The first thing you notice about Feist this time is the rawness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH I DIDN'T MISS YOU")

FEIST: (Singing) Trying to find a way to talk about it. I'm also in the mind to just let it go.

MOON: In the six years between her last album and this one, Feist went through a long period of emotional distress. She's called it a dark night of the soul. It involved relationship drama, a struggle to write songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH I DIDN'T MISS YOU")

FEIST: (Singing) You sent in spiders to fight for you. I was so disappointed I didn't know what to do. I wish I didn't miss you.

MOON: She got back on track by changing her approach. In the past, she built narratives around imagined lives. This time, she writes about what she's going through. She's direct, blunt and inclined to keep things at an intimate scale.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GET NOT HIGH, GET NOT LOW")

FEIST: (Singing) I was bright as the sun, then Saskatchewan, then I laid low like the tide, then Bay of Fundy high. I was living in extremes and everything that that means.

MOON: Feist took her music down to the bare walls. Much of this album is just guitar and her beautifully layered voice. There's lots of open space, room for expressions of disarming vulnerability like on this song, "Baby Be Simple."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY BE SIMPLE")

FEIST: (Singing) Baby, be simple. Baby, be simple. Be simple. Be simple with me.

MOON: It's a stunning plea, wrenching in its honesty, and it's just one on an album of many. Feist hasn't lost her gift for the insinuating melody. With pleasure, she's just found striking new minimalist architecture for it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M NOT RUNNING AWAY")

FEIST: (Singing) I'm not running away. Water is running like I stay - constant growing up.

MCEVERS: The latest from Feist is called "Pleasure." Our reviewer is Tom Moon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.