Think of the sound of waves rising and crashing loudly onto the shore, think of a symphony playing in full the drums pounding, brass blowing, the strings screeching like a screeching gale, the sheer malevolent power of it coming at the listener with the force of a howling wind. Now think of the opposite, the gentle, calm lapping of waves on a windless day, the soft and sad violin or oboe of a chamber ensemble piece. In both instances these sounds elicit a feeling in the listener whether it is fear or sadness or joy or wonder doesn’t matter, however what matters is that a feeling is given off.
I felt a certain feeling of calm and a clearness while listening to b o t t l e s the third solo record by Montreal singer/songwriter Flavie, who performs under the moniker Tangle With Care, when not performing with the French country and folk outfit Bouches Bées. b o t t l e s is a significant monument for Flavie in that it was originally recorded as a demo.
She recorded the four-song EP in the basement of a house by a lake in Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec, playing all the instruments herself. After she listened to it though she found she liked the stripped down and quiet sound of it and had it mixed and mastered from those recordings.
b o t t l e s opens with the quiet, folky “Wine.” One notices the beautiful hushed tones of Flavie’s vocals and the raw power of her precise lyricism. “Pour me in a glass to see / if you can hold on to your thoughts /and then pretend I am your friend,” she sings, painting a picture of a first meeting with “You've got nothing to lose / feed me to this boy and tell him your name.” It is this precision, the resistance to over-tell that gives the song such raw power.
Next on “Sunscreen” set to a simple snare tap and a few ripples of piano, Flavie delivers her few, simple lyrics with a haunting power, “Why don't you put some sunscreen? /Do you want to get burn by the sun? / Let me put you some sunscreen /with my bare hands on your back / And now lay down.” Here words here have the directness of poetry and it is only in the way she inflects that the listener is able to understand this is more than just a day at the beach happening. However Flavie is able to capture a mood even when she is barely using any words at all as she does on the mostly instrumental “Life goes on.”
Four songs feels like just enough for a record of b o t t l e s’s scope and it retains that feeling of the solo, self-focused acoustic singer/songwriter mood that every singer, whether they release it or not, should make, if only to strip away the layers that one wears as they progress.
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