Published Mar 06, 2020Little Misty's self-titled debut, the result of the creative union between Montreal-based jazz expats Kathryn Samman and Francois Jalbert, is an eclectic musical trip likely to ruffle as many feathers amongst the folk intelligentsia as draw in new fans. The nine tracks boast a bold smattering of jazz, folk, bluegrass and prog rock elements, but the identity crisis behind the musical arrangements is an integral part of Little Misty's charm.
Melodically, many of the tracks on Little Misty prominently feature vocalist Samman's delicate, jazzy crooning. There's very little vibrato, which makes Samman's tone sound reminiscent of a singer like Helen Merrill, minus the overtones and bent pitches. It's a soothing vibe that draws you in, a clear and unwavering tone not often heard in the folk world.
Conversely, Jalbert's guitar work serves as the workhorse delivering a master class in technical prowess to match Samman's vocal vulnerabilities. In "The Path" for instance, Jalbert's peg-legged arpeggios lay down the foundation for Samman to tell her story, only to smash that foundation later on with a David Gilmour-style heavy rock riff, and then switch gears once more to something more akin to new wave. In "Keeper," the 6/8 feel shines through and features Jalbert strumming an offbeat pattern to give the track an almost vintage soul feel. In "Rain Won't Wait," Jalbert delivers a tour de force banjo line.
At the end of the day, Little Misty's debut is a fascinating journey into the psyche of the creative minds of two individuals (with the help of several Montreal-based friends) hell bent on upending the status quo and presenting something unique in the process. They haven't quite perfected the alchemy of what they want to accomplish yet, but given time and a few more records under their belts, most certainly will. (Independent)