It’s hard to call Leslie Feist an underdog. A world-famous, borderline household name after the mega-success of 2007’s The Reminder and its juggernaut of a lead single “1 2 3 4”, Feist was (along with rapper Drake) one of the only A-listers on the short list for the $30,000 Polaris Prize for best Canadian album of the year. And yet, when her name was announced on Monday night at the gala award ceremony, a wide ripple of surprise pulled through the room. Most flabbergasted of all seemed to be the artist herself. Within seconds of the announcement, Feist was hiding under her table, a gesture at once winningly honest and thrillingly theatrical. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good way to describe Feist’s intimate, artful music. Especially on her slippery, haunted (and now Polaris-winning) Metals, hers is an approach to songwriting and performance that blurs lines, that oscillates between tender quietude and grand symphonic bursts.
“This is my worst nightmare”, she exclaimed, standing beside host Grant Lawrence as he struggled to hold up an oversized novelty cheque. “You’d think after a lifetime of terrible speeches that at one point I’d think to write something down. But I never do because it seems presumptuous.”