Caterino’s (Catherine-Audrey Lachapelle) debut EP Brume (“Fog”) is a sparkly little 4-song gem. A melancholy emotional landscape is softly painted in with little paintbrush flicks – careful arrangements colouring the intimate lyrics. From the beginning of the first song, the melody and harmonic structure consistently take unexpected turns, gently leading the listener through a sad but beautiful world textured by lovely strings (Ariane Zita) and Americana-tinged guitar, piano, bass (Cédric Martel) and drums (Maxime Hébert).
On the stylized (think Wes Anderson) album cover, Caterino is depicted looking sombrely at the camera, fringed arm feebly raised as though to say, “look, I couldn’t fly even if I tried.” Pertinent to this, the EP’s first song,”Vol plané” (“Soaring flight”) is about the dangers of flying – that is, of being willing to make yourself lighter than air, of sacrificing yourself just to escape gravity with someone for a moment. The airy arrangement grows increasingly sparse until it fully gives way to weightlessness in an a capella description of what the moment of flight will feel like. Lachapelle then repeatedly promises, “je ne tomberai pas” (“I will not fall”) but we sense that it is inevitable that she will, and that she knows this as well.
On “Brume,” Lachapelle sings of waiting for a familiar fog to re-enter her life, the comfort of a familiar misery. She welcomes it – “je ne la crains pas … la brume me bercera” (“I do not fear her … the fog will cradle me”) – allowing it to seduce her before it inevitably lets her down.
“Sortir de moi” (“To get out of myself”) is an old-school country lament, Lachapelle an embittered lone cowboy standing on a dusty tumbleweed road. The vocals seem to contain disdain, as though Lachapelle is scowling as she sings, desperately asking how to escape herself. She is tired of feeling like she is supposed to be somewhere other than where she is.
The album ends on “La honte” (“The shame”), a soft tune somewhat reminiscent of Elliott Smith with its delightful melody, acoustic guitar strums, dramatic piano and strings, and near-despair. The lyrics speak of a familiar desperate state and the dreadful feeling that your troubles are stronger than you are. The song and album end on a dominant (V) chord, leaving us wanting more. This is where we start the album over again, seeking resolve somewhere within the layers of the music.
This is an honest album that manages to convey the complex pain of existence in a beautiful way. Although the songs deal with heavy and dark emotion, there is spirit and vigour in the music and things never feel totally hopeless. The songs’ vulnerable core is given wings by their harmonic structure and arrangement, always moving toward new possibilities.
Top Track: “Vol plané”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)