Michael Feuerstack 2024
Photo: Anneke Hymen / Clandestine Label Services

Michael Feuerstack Matches Questions with Infectious Grooves

In Eternity Mongers, Michael Feuerstack proves his mettle as a fine, seasoned songwriter and captures soulful innocence and throws in killer hooks.

Eternity Mongers
Michael Feuerstack
Forward Music Group
19 April 2024

“What is the thing you live for / What is the resonant tone / What is it that makes the time roll / What is it that makes the slow-motion go?” These are some of the questions Michael Feuerstack asks in “What Isn’t What It Is”, the opening track on the Montreal-based artist’s latest album, Eternity Mongers. There’s a certain air of naïve, gentle curiosity in the songs Feuerstack writes and sings. It’s not for lack of intelligence or general basic knowledge – he just seems to be an inquisitive type. Musically, it helps that the songs themselves are full of sweet melodies and an intoxicating blend of country twang and easy power-pop.

Stylistically, Feuerstack straddles lines between the simple pleasures of David Berman’s finest work, the Americana tinge of Jeff Tweedy, and the endless hooks of fellow Canadian Daniel Romano. A fine bunch of musicians, to be sure, and Feuerstack earns those comparisons. In terms of the recording and instrumentation, there’s an intimate warmth that comes from most of the basic tracks recorded “as live as possible” (according to the press notes) – Feuerstack on lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, and pedal steel, Michel Belyea on drums, and Kyle Cunjak on bass guitar and organ. Woodwinds, courtesy of Karen Ng and Tim Crabtree on saxophone, clarinet, and flute, and backing vocals from Erika Angell and Laurel Sprengelmeyer were overdubbed later.

While songs like “The Path” and “Your Mind’s Made Up” employ those woodwinds to understated perfection – creeping in and out of those midtempo tunes without overstaying their welcome – they underscore the type of soulful country rock that Feuerstack appears to be striving for. But at the same time, Eternity Mongers can turn on a dime with the lovely, muted new wave of “No Such Thing”, as Feuerstack, Angell, and Sprengelmeyer sing, “They used to call it growing up / But now we know there’s no such thing” over a sharp, angular beat that recalls early 1980s skinny tie-era MTV.

Elsewhere, the sparse, loping “It’s Coming Together” sails along on a funky, wistful beat with a bit of monotone vocalizing that brings to mind late-period, domesticized Lou Reed, and the gentle, gorgeous “No Excuses” dials things down with an arrangement that favors acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, as the ever-present saxophones add the necessary color. Feuerstack is equally comfortable with up-tempo rave-ups like “Old Man Winter” as he is with low-key, almost jazzy reflection on tracks like “Disenchantment”, which includes plenty of dreamy lines like “If my déjà vu is reliable / You can walk right to the edge of the pier / You can take off your shoes, roll up your jeans / And try to disappear.” Sometimes, Feuerstack requests answers; other times, he wants to wax rhapsodic about everyday occurrences.

“I’ve got no particular place to go,” Feuerstack sings on the winsome “Big Sails”. “The floating points in the distance grow / My passage is uneventful / I want to go where the big sails go.” In Eternity Mongers, Michael Feuerstack proves his mettle as a fine, seasoned songwriter whose music can sometimes convey a brooding intensity – but sometimes, he wants to let the wind take him wherever it may go.

RATING 7 / 10