The opening notes of Post Script’s debut full length album immediately reminded me of the first shots of We Were Wolves, a Canadian film at TIFF I screened last year, where echoes of The Barr Brothers grazed over a quiet piece of land surrounded by water and calling loons. It’s that same remoteness and quiet opportunity that Edmonton musicians Steph Blais, Paul Cournoyer and Brayden Treble have channeled into their semi-wild If Not For You.
There’s a heartbreaking story about how Post Script found that aesthetic when they went to record. A farmhouse built by Cournoyer’s grandparents looked ahead to retirement, and—for his grandmother—years of uninterrupted creativity. An early stroke put an end to that dream until the band stepped in to use the farm the way it was intended. Linking themselves lyrically to the farm’s bittersweet focus on family ties, the trio capture nature at its most gentle and terrifying, with Blais alternating between her own loon-like coo and a fierce fall storm.
And as much as If Not For You embodies the traditional Canadian oscillation between urban living and rural retreat, it also captures the spirit of the nation’s linguistic divide. Both Blais and Cournoyer identify as franco-albertans, switching seamlessly between languages throughout the album to offer a truly bilingual experience—relishing in the different stories it allows them to tell, and the way lyrics and sounds shift with the language.
Blais trades off with Cournoyer and Treble on songs like “Prends ma main,” a musical back-and-forth that celebrates how old ties can help before moving into the more somber “Dear Marie” as Cournoyer’s upright bass mimics anxious breaths. It’s a transition made all the more emphatic as the language itself changes the very rhythms of the songs.
The overall effect feels distinctly Canadian—reminding me of the aforementioned Montreal-based Barr Brothers, while Blais softer solos fall into an inescapable comparison to Coeur de Pirate. And the unexpected toss of fast-talking country into the mix, as the three share the mic and steel strings scream out, brings to mind the slow formation of Whitehorse.
At times cultural identity feels like the only way to explain how opener “Lay Low” and wailing closer “Too Damn Much” can exist at the literal and metaphorical extremes of the album without once sounding out of place. From folk flourishes, French love songs and rocking country it feels like the whole country has been explored, all from a remote farm that finally found its calling.
Top Tracks: “Lay Low”; “Prends ma main”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)