Lam While Escaping

If the cover photo is any indication of what While Escaping has in store, then it’s likely you’ll be drawn into Michel Lam’s shadowy, secluded folk ballads. The picture depicts a brightly lit town surrounded by nothing except snowy barrenness, a sight both unfamiliar yet curious, and it’s within this icy, sincere, enchanting place that the Montreal-based singer-songwriter locates his unique sound. Recorded at Hotel 2 Tango by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, the Dears, Godspeed You! Black Emperor), While Escaping seems to take little effort on LAM’s part. Album opener "A Dusty Melody” demands nothing from the listener, possessing a signature touch that also trickles throughout "While Escaping” and "Patterned Smiles.” Although the introverted and delicate side of folk music seems to be LAM’s strongpoint, his sound does invite us to explore all hinterlands and limits, as demonstrated on more turbulent, upbeat tracks like "Let’s Stay A Bit Longer” and "Reasons & Treasons.” Diversity is key for LAM, but if there’s one thing that breaks the enrapturing qualities of the record it’s the unsteady and slightly abrasive vocals. It’s not much of a setback at all, but once smoothed out LAM will most definitely have something incredible to offer come his next disc. (Shaker)