JF Robitaille Rival Hearts

JF RobitailleRival Hearts
Montreal songsmith JF Robitaille (ex-the Social Register) first made a solo splash when he was discovered in NYC by Nona Hendryx back in 2006. The demise of her label set his career back slightly, but his 2011 full-length debut, Calendar, marked him as one to watch. That potential is now fully realized on this potent collection of emotionally rich material. His expressive vocal style is complemented by the skilled accompanists and the typically crisp production of Andy Magoffin (the Constantines, Great Lake Swimmers), with recording taking place at indie mecca House of Miracles. Trumpet, organ and piano help add sonic atmosphere while never obscuring Robitaille's vocal and lyric prowess. "Vanished Rival" and "Ste. Catherine" have a laconic, part-talking, part-singing style that's suggestive of early Lou Reed, while catchy first single "Cry (To Keep From Laughing)" has a retro vibe, à la Chris Isaak or Richard Hawley. "In A Dream With You" is a quietly haunting gem on an album devoid of misses. The title suggests tugging at heartstrings, and this lovely disc accomplishes just that. (Universal)