Every once in a while an album comes along that more than one of our writers love so we give them a chance to review it together. Un Blonde’s Good Will Come To You is one of those records. Much like Grayowl’s previous double reviews, this will be in a Crosstalk-esque format.
Laura: Jean-Sebastien Audet’s (Un Blonde) Good Will Come To You radiates. It radiates love and hope. It’s a record that transcends both genre (I can’t confidentially call it a pop or folk record) and religion. A God is present but who or what that God is unclear. At times it sounds as if Audet subscribes to Transcendentalism because he finds so much goodness in both people and nature. In “A Level Playing Field” for example, he sees as much love in the sun that wakes him up as he does in the mysterious being in his life: “I look in you with love, the world might come around, the answers might be clear.”
As Audet tells The Fader, “The album is the sky, ground, friends, family, traffic, birds, breeze. The harmonies are the other people on the street—they understand my day. They’re walking their dogs, getting groceries, waiting for the bus, singing along. Each day is a different song.” What is unmistakable is that each song – each note, each breath, each day – is a celebration. Even when Audet is uncertain and fearful, he doesn’t give in to these worries but rather looks for light and an answer. Audet admits “it’s hard to know just who I am anymore” in the gorgeous 30 seconds of “On My Grind” but it sounds as if this realization is a blessing because now he can begin to discover who he is. A sincere belief that “good will come to you” is at the heart of each song and each day.
Michael, I want to start things off by addressing the fragmented nature of the album – the album is 21 songs in total with most of the tracks two minutes and under. Do you think that these short songs work well and the album is able to flow smoothly or are you left wanting more?
Michael: How much of a cop-out is it if I say “both”? The way Audet describes the album in that Fader interview is poetic enough as is, but it’s also a good hint at why he chose this album structure. There are a lot of songs but they’re mostly short bursts, and without getting too metaphysical, it’s almost as though he’s putting to music a chaotic — and simultaneously remarkably calm — thought process. Audet is thinking about freedom, about nature, about identity, with no real need to flow seamlessly. I mean, think about how much stuff we think about throughout the day — when I’m reading a book my mind is also recapping the events of the day and wondering about what’s to come.
But at the same time, he’s anchoring his sounds into the ebbs and flows of the earth. They’re simple touches but they add such a nice dimension to his songs: the birds calling in “Open Sesame” or the calm rain of “Rain Will Not Change.” Humanity itself ties him to earth, with the extra voices (his “neighbours”) providing an immediate grounding after more synth-oriented, flighty instrumental pieces like “Exercise A.” Sometimes, that grounding can even happen within the space of a song. “In Harmony” at first sounds like it should be chaotic, but by the end we’re hearing birds chirping and everything has calmed down significantly.
There’s even some continuity in the titles of the songs. Earlier on we’re told “Rain Will Not Change” as though it has some kind choice in the matter; it could accommodate our needs, but it won’t. But the penultimate song brings that idea into doubt; now Audet is saying “Rain Cannot Change” and he’s starting to question why he can’t do the same, or whether he wants to.
So that’s how I feel like it’s simultaneously fragmented and unified, much like we are as humans. Good god, I’m getting sentimental.
An interesting aspect of this album is that it’s the second part of a planned trilogy of albums—Water the Next Day is extremely different stylistically, almost veiled in a fog of electronics and an aura of mystery. What was your favourite change, instrumentally or thematically, from the previous album and what kind of grander statement do you think is in the works for this trilogy?
Laura: I think this record just brings out a lot of emotions – I mean, did you hear my introduction?!
To me, outwardly, Water the Next Day and Good Will Come To You are similar records in that they are both collections, as you described, of short and intense bursts of creativity. But, where Water the Next Day stutters and shakes with electronics, Good Will Come To You calmly drifts and that has a lot to do with Audet’s use of an acoustic guitar and the treatment and layering of vocals. You know that I like quiet folk-y music so I love the softer palette of Good Will Come To You. The world is too harsh already so the fact that each track is a new day in the life of Audet and each day doesn’t sound as discordant as real life often is, is very heartwarming.
I honestly don’t know what Audet has in store for the finale of his trilogy and that’s an exciting thought! If I were to really dive deep into what I perceive to be the grander themes of these albums I’d say that Water the Next Day is a technological album and Good Will Come To You is a spiritual album but where does that leave the next one? Perhaps Audet will dive further into the natural world or maybe he’ll lead us to new dimensions and we’ll get a space-y, out of this world record. What is certain is that Un Blonde is about being free through the making of art so whatever and wherever Audet feels his most authentic self is what the next record will capture.
We listen to a lot of music and I like to think that we have a pretty good idea of the current trends in music etc. The fact that we’re doing a double review means that we both feel like this record is a standout but what about it do you think is so exciting?
Michael: We’re both not strangers to music inspired by faith — we both adore We Are The City and Jordan Klassen’s Javelin is already one of my favourite records of the year. And we can both appreciate sparse folk music for its ability to mine naked emotion. I think the reason this album is so exciting is because, as you mentioned early on, it’s transcendent.
Gospel influences are more often than not these days informing the work of rappers, most notably Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, but Audet takes gospel past being a mere ingredient in his work and pulls it even beyond religion into something wholly new. He’s combining faith and folk like no one has really done before.
Beyond broader arguments about genre, though, this album is so effortless. I argued in my Polaris essay on Jennifer Castle’s Pink City last year that the reason that record is so great is because she’s a master. Audet is still very young but his arrangements are uncanny. He knows when to throw in some percussion, how to make every note reverberate. His arrangements are as “at peace” as he seems to be in his lyrics.
Like you, I’m very excited to see where his final trilogy installment takes us. Musically he’s already taken us to an unexpectedly beautiful place.
Laura’s Top Tracks: “On My Grind”; “Staying In Line”; “A Level Playing Field”
Laura’s Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*
Michael’s Top Tracks: “Take Me Higher”; “Brand New”; “Celebration”
Michael’s Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*