Published Oct 08, 2020Linaire is the new solo project of Anna Atkinson, a Montreal-based singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Her self-titled debut album, intended as a state of reflection for dealing with complex emotions, is powered by vocals that echo and swirl atop atmospheric and at times sparse instrumentation.
In the opening track, "Feeling," a happy beat is a soft bed in which the words "maybe just a little bit sad" are repeated with juxtaposition over and over, getting into the listeners' head but playfully rather than irritably. "Go in the Morning" is hypnotically uplifting, the lyrics simple but sung operatically and with motivational purpose. "Go in the morning to the highest place that you can find and walk around," she recommends, as though starting the day with a sense of power is the best way to deal with emotions.
The hypnotic quality is a theme throughout. In "I'll Buy You Lunch," a rapid but bare beat sets a pace for Linaire's vocals, which sing the same lines over and over, unthreateningly and pronounced. Towards the end, these vocals are layered with a slight delay — an effect that's central to "Oh Who," where the vocals vary in pitch and become a little chaotic. "There has never been a clearer path to you / The sidewards baseball cap and plastic jewels," she states, while a violin reminiscent of a car alarm is set off midway through. The multiple voices, all proclaiming the same thing, gives the impression of being lost inside one's own thoughts.
As an album sonically exploring beauty and discomfort, many of the songs are wrapped in an illuminated darkness — melancholic but glittery. "The Inside, the Outside" is one of these, as is "Best I Can." With the operatic vocals and hint of whimsicality, the album recalls Norwegian artist Susanne Sunfør, as emphasized by closing track "Long Long Line," which glides along like a plane approaching a landing in a city at night.
"Worked That Way" perhaps best sums up the album. Beginning a cappella, a twinkling melody enters, creating a slight otherworldliness and dreaminess. It's subtly melancholic orchestral additions are incorporated into the electronics to maintain a sense of playfulness. Lyrics from "Oh Who" are repeated again, merging the songs so they are all part of one entity.
Having established a career in the music industry, with two solo albums and a multitude of projects within theatre, film and dance, Atkinson taking on the role as Linaire comes fully-formed and conceptualized. The self-titled album is accessible, intriguing, and a simple exploration of what can be done with instrumentation and voice. (Independent)