Canada’s Gabrielle Papillon has long stood as a remarkable singer/songwriter, and her upcoming sixth LP, Keep the Fire, maintains that excellence. Having heard the whole thing, I can attest to its wonderful mixture of dense, rustic instrumentation, bittersweet yet empowered singing, and captivatingly confessional lyricism. While each piece succeeds in its own ways, arguably the best track in the sets is the title track, which Papillon is now premiering ahead of the collection’s 13 October release date (on UK label the state51 Conspiracy). With its boisterous and dynamic arrangement, catchy chorus, and engaging sentiments, it’s guaranteed to ignite something meaningful within you, too.
While Keep the Fire “remains confidently, almost nonchalantly rooted in folk strumming and gentle vocal phrasings”, it also finds Papillon incorporating more art-pop techniques thanks, in part, to a continued collaboration with producer Daniel Ledwell (who also worked on her last full-length, 2015’s The Tempest of Old). She also brought in “EDM pop genius” Corey LaRue (Neon Dreams), who added “heft and punch to pretty songs”.
As for its themes, she calls it “a backdrop to life, a life score”, adding:
I had this epiphany, this very intense and quiet moment, after a difficult holiday season, where I saw very clearly that I had to be critical about what I needed and what I had to let go of, in my personal life. I had to rid myself of a good deal of baggage in order to really nurture the fire that would keep me going.
For a long time, the working title of this new record was What to Keep, and that felt right because it was making those decisions that allowed me to write with the direction and clarity I needed. But things also shifted in that time, and in the whole process of deciding what the record was about it became very clear that the answer, both to the initial question of ‘what to keep?’ and the overarching narrative of the record, was that I had the answer all along.
What to keep? Keep the fire.
Check out the song for yourself below and hear how its blend of somber piano chords (reminiscent of the most subtle Sufjan Stevens gems), invigorating percussion, tense orchestration, and triumphant vocals (with angelic harmonies) yields something as moving as it is entertaining. Afterward, be sure to pre-order the album.