There’s always something to be said of an artist who manages to be in near-perfect control of their craft, and that can definitely be said about Montreal solo artist JF Robitaille.
Robitaille has quite a bit going for him on Calendar, his first recording since 2007’s The Blood in my Body EP. He has a fantastic voice, rich with subtleties, and he also masterfully arranges the melodies.
Robitaille’s acoustic guitar gets support from Chris Wise on drums, Tavo Diez de Bonilla on bass and Andrew Johnston on supporting guitars. Though he doesn’t necessarily use them all at once. Robitaille’s songs are carefully crafted and often require little else in the way of instruments to make an impact.
The opening song “Modern Love Song Pt. 1” is a great example of the musical control Robitaille exerts. The four-minute song is carried at least halfway just by Robitaille’s voice and picking of his acoustic guitar. He then is seamlessly joined by drums and a flourishing of a few other instruments. It’s best line is definitely when Robitaille says “I’m choking on history and nothing at all.”
“For Better Or Worse” showcases Robitaille’s ability to adapt. The song has a much more upbeat adult-pop vibe to it, a noticeable change from his more quiet folk-pop demeanour. The song is a great full-band number.
Another interesting song is “Winters Like These” where Robitaille describes “The thunder you used to undress to.” The song is one of his more simple songs, with just an acoustic riff and a smattering of keys and harmonica.
“Everything’s Broken Here” showcases a subtle but brilliant bass line while “The City Trembles” features a cello for great effect.
The album’s title track layers electric and acoustic guitar riffs quite nicely. The hook “I need it more than I need you” will likely be a line that gets struck in your head.
Robitaille is clearly a man in control of his product, and I can only hope that he continues down this path with future releases. You can check out his website for links to some songs and to purchase the album itself.
Top Tracks: “Modern Love Song Pt. 1,” “Radio Song”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really good) + *swoop*