Review: Feist

Feist has changed a lot in the last four years. The Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter has returned from her time away from recording with what seems like a deep sense of her own mortality.

The dark complex vocal harmonies of Metals, her first album since 2007, draw on Fleetwood Mac’s gothier moments or the bluesy Americana of Cat Power. Her voice still has that same ethereal quality but gone are the catchy jingles that cellphone advertisers loved so much. Instead of that bouncy energy of youth, these songs consider death and loss.

The Centre is an appropriate venue for Feist’s new romance with operatic themes. But rather than bringing an orchestra, Feist is travelling with a tight cohort of musicians – drums, bass, keyboards and a trio of backup singers.

She starts strong with a yowling rendition of Undiscovered First lead by her own twangy guitar. Her backup singers pound tambourines in time with a heavy bass drum. Flashes like lightning illuminate the delighted crowd.

This opening feels like a statement. Dressed in a brown tunic dress and red tights, her hair hanging around her shoulders, Feist seems relaxed and confident behind her guitar. No more dreaming about angels or dance routines. Feist is going back to her rock roots.

Even the friendliest song on the album, How Come You Never Go There, takes on a sharper edge. And Graveyard becomes a desperate plea with its chorus of “Bring em all back to life.”

Later, when she reprises her radio hit Mushaboom, it’s to the spare rhythm of woodblocks and a chorus that sounds more like drum song than an idle childish hum of the original. It feels mournful rather than hopeful.

Whatever the future brings for Feist, it’s clear that she’s no longer the radio friendly darling of the 2000s.

Erika Thorkelson, Vancouver Sun