Music is for Solace

Lost late thoughts on the last edition of M for Montreal 

How have you been ?

I have been good. But I do miss writing about music. And it’s not desire which was lacking.

We don’t need to acknowledge how weird the year has been.

For reasons that I won’t lay out here, it’s been increasingly difficult for me to write about this thing that I like the most. But here I am.

Albums and the songs featured on them are months, if not years in the making. Once they come out, finally accessible to the public, it is possible for the artist to have moved on. Or it is possible that the timing is weird for these songs. Or in the best case, none of the aforementioned. We, listeners wouldn’t know about these inner battles.  We hear it for the first time here, we choose to take it or leave it without thinking twice. It’s just what the heart does — I need this, or I don’t need this, at least for right now.

A song will attest and document events or emotions experienced by the composer, that are then passed on to us to decide how this will be interpreted and speak for something on a personal level. And sometimes, you can tell there is no difference. As if someone went through you head while you were awake and stole the feelings from inside of it — just a clean up that went unnoticed as it took place.

I wailed when I first pressed play on ‘’Around The Bends’’. (At my desk — the last time it happened when when Carrie and Lowell was released).  It just sounded like me when I’m feeling low — reflecting on a troubled past, a so-called bright future, somewhat stranded between these two. Turns out that Goodnight City is a hell of an album. And in the two weeks that followed the release of the LP and Martha Wainwright‘s concert at the Rialto, I already knew all the lyrics — this is how obsessive it gets when something offers a balm for my wounds.  She was calm and grounded (yes, Martha Wainwright was calm and I love her, I love when she is and when she is not) . I was tired and frantic. She metaphorically put a hand on my shoulder saying that it would be alright. I waltzed in my head and hugged my friends. She only played new songs — except for the encore , and I may be the only one who was grateful for that. Not dwelling on the past, with a double-bass to make it divine.



I would not be surprised Leif Vollebekk is the artist that got the most ‘’play’’ if only all the musical devices I used in my life could speak (possibly tied with Cat Power and Sufjan Stevens — but that is another story). ‘’Elegy’’, the first single to forthcoming record Twin Solitude came out November 2. You can mark this day as another one where I cried in public. Comparing the end of a relationship to a funeral is nothing novel, but sometimes you burry and mourn without the bitterness — we have been through it, we lived it, we parted, you died. I’m still here, not without you, but after you. Haunted, regretful, maybe, but hopeful; not to make the same mistakes twice. We will recreate.

I have played this song to the borderline of insanity — 10, 20, 30 times a day. I know every rest, every chord, every intonation, built harmonies on it. Nothing compares to feeling understood when feeling vulnerable and you don’t even have to get it out. I look forward to February 24, when the album drops.

Leif played a few songs in a church, where I sat alone and wept again. A pump organ, an electric guitar, sparse back vocals, there was a cover of ”A Case of You”. 45 minutes of volunteering pulling out the plug on the outside world and reflect in silence to the sound of what we decided was a sacred moment. Turn it all off. Turn in all back on. We can do this. Now.

I am looking forward to anything that can bring you closer to me. We have this city, and we have the music.

About Christelle Saint-Julien

Professional writer and translator based in Montreal, Christelle compiles projects on project such as brainchild Naked Underground Montreal, literary collective Le Shindig, music, arts and sharing her passion for local culture.