[14 August 2008]
The revolving door and bandmate swapping of Montreal’s Ships at Night imprint is ever-fruitful. Members of each of the label’s impressive bands would appear to moonlight in another. Turns are taken, microphones passed, and the distinct songwriting and stylistic vision of each is illuminated in turn. Belleisle represents another highly considered and strongly felt collection of songs from its fellows.
The band boasts two singer-songwriters, Tasha Cyr and Rebecca Silverberg, whose voices and compositions blend seamlessly on their debut Longstanding. The duo’s folkish pop is beautifully understated and varied; Cyr’s “Better Than Reality” contains subtle traces of Sade’s cool romanticism while Silverberg’s “Waking Up Slowly” builds from strummed acoustic jazz chords and brushed cymbals into a tough yet elegant climbing electric figure. But both are Belleisle, as are bassist David Tkach and multi-instrumentalist Jeannot Boudreau, who flesh out thoughtful arrangements that never feel overdone.
The exquisite closer “Trying” poses an apt question: “There’s so many things to choose / How do we ever choose them?” First, an abundance of good choices appears to have precipitated both Belleisle and Longstanding. Second, the number of standout moments and songs on the record makes it difficult to choose favorites to single out for attention. And lastly, in what often seems a sea of musical sameness, you could choose far far worse than to set your sails for Belleisle.