Published Mar 20, 2015Gabrielle Papillon's newest album is dark and rich, with melancholy melodies, string orchestrations and gothic lyrics swirling around like a cigarette smoke trail in the black of night. But The Tempest of Old is more than just minor keys and longing-filled lyrics; it's an ebb and flow, showing Papillon's mastery of contrast between dark edges and soft dawns.
The album kicks off with the deeply brooding track "Got You Well," with its humming choruses and subtle foot-stomps, channelling the sounds of the Deep South (hauntingly enough, the late Fleur Mainville laid down the fiddle track on it almost a year ago). The second track, "With our Trouble," continues the moody part of the pilgrimage, but stands out with its sing-along-ready lyrics ["Is there anybody I can heal?"].
Midway track "Idling" is a welcome slow-down, an easing off of the gas pedal, showing Papillon's ability to convey softness and vulnerability, complete with banjo and glockenspiel riffs. The lyrical standout has to be "Kentucky in the Dark," with its clever quips (gems like "I've got bright ideas for every politician" and "Why do we falter here? / Why do we hesitate?").
The Tempest of Old was recorded at Echo Lake in Halifax (where Papillon has set up shop), and includes a horde of Halifax talent (Jenn Grant, Michael Belyea and producer Daniel Ledwell). And yet one shines brightest: Gabrielle Papillon. (Independent)