Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reviews:: Olivier Jarda Ghost Fees

myspace :: pre-order Ghost Fees

Just the other day I was talking to Matthew about how I hadn't heard much Canadian content in the last few weeks that blew me away. Sure, a few tracks were sounding good and releases like Mark Berube's new record were a welcome treat, but as is often the case, the summer release schedule was pretty slow. Basically, I've resorted to looping the new Fembots record over and over again, wondering if I will ever tire of the amazing songs.

Then out of nowhere, a show announcement caught my attention. Sure it was too late, but I noticed that Olivier Jarda is back (briefly) in Canada after his first year studying across the pond, he played in Halifax, and had a new EP with him. You might remember Jarda as the focal point of our New Brunswick Mixtape compilation. Diagrams is a terrific collection of songs, but the majority of listeners didn’t seem to pay attention (Wolves Hawks and Kites excluded).

His new EP - Ghost Fees - is a bit of old mixed with a lot of new. Grabbing three songs from Diagrams and writing four new ones, Jarda has obviously been inspired by his trip overseas. His melancholic tracks give way to the curiosity of a world traveler. His new compositions are more introspective; solitary and stripped down. Much like Mark Morrisette's (aka Octoberman) tales of travel, Jarda paints vivid images of seemingly insignificant moments he's experienced; the type of encounters a traveler holds tight. A cup of coffee. A chance encounter on the Metro. Two strangers sharing a moment in time.

What strikes me most about some of the new songs is the interesting thoughts he adds to the arrangements. Instead of gritty, lo-fi indie rock, the newer material shows Jarda using new instruments - like the mandolin he adds to the title track - and sounds. On the new version of Flashing the Lights, a booming harmonica screams over top his his heavy strums and the double tracked vocals on the chorus help make the common man tale seem more grandiose than tender.

But what has always made Jarda believable as a song writer is his emotion. Diagrams was littered with rage, love, heartache and sadness, and while he's still emotional, he's looking for love not discouraged by it. Please Believe is an honest admission, one in which Jarda uses only a few spare strums of his acoustic to express his love. His voice has always reminded me of James Mercer, but his delivery is laced with a sincerity that makes it almost impossible to discount his words.

Such a huge transition in life affects everything about you, and it's no different for Jarda. Thoughts, beliefs, and ideas all change and the questions he's asked himself have allowed him to take another big step and mature as a song writer.

Posted at 6:31 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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