Myriam Gendron

Myriam Gendron

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Myriam Gendron

Mayday is the third LP by Montreal-based artist, Myriam Gendron. It follows her earlier, critically acclaimed albums, Not So Deep As A Well (2014) and Ma délire –Songs of love, lost & found (2021). Prior to her debut album, Myriam’s primary musical focus was busking in Paris Metro stations, performing the songs of Leonard Cohen and others, accompanying herself on guitar. Through her day job, working at a bookstore, Myriam discovered the poems of American writer, Dorothy Parker, who was better known for her cutting wit than her verse. Inspired by Parker’s words, Myriam wrote music to accompany a suite of them, then recorded the results in her bedroom. These very recordings were issued as her debut LP, and continue to delight listeners who discover them, with their freshness, clarity and humor. Writing in Uncut, Tyler Wilcox described Not So Deep As A Well as, “one of those out-of-nowhere LPs that was so captivating, you couldn’t help raving about it to anyone who would listen.”

After a hiatus, during which she became a mother, Myriam began exploring the complex folk traditions of Quebec, and recorded the 2LP, Ma délire. This project was begun while she was on a sponsored creative retreat in rural Quebec with her young daughter. Myriam had been inspired by the ways in which traditional songs from disparate cultures embrace parallel archetypes. The resulting album (part of which was actually recorded on the fly during this retreat) combines traditional and original lyrics (largely in French) with arrangements that make space for avant-garde musical interludes by such players as guitarist Bill Nace (Body/Head) and percussionist Chris Corsano. Like her debut, Ma délire has been received rhapsodically. In his review for Foxy Digitalis, Brad Rose writes the album, “is a complete and total triumph. There aren’t many artists who understand and can harness the immortal spirit that flows through traditional music like Myriam Gendron. For all her talents as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer, this is her greatest gift.”

Mayday presents an even more syncretic fusion of the elements Myriam uses to create her sound. Most of the songs are original, sung in both English and French, and they blend traditional and avant elements with abandon. She is often accompanied on this album by the guitarist Marisa Anderson and drummer Jim White (Dirty Three), whose work provides a quietly aggressive sort of free-rock base. Additional players this time include Montreal bassist Cédric Dind-Lavoie (a fellow fan of trad/avant dynamism), Bill Nace and saxophonist Zoh Amba (whose horn actually gets the final “word”). Mayday is a thoroughly thrilling effort that manages to create new vistas of sound while maintaining a feel that is both intimate and familiar.

Myriam has privately described the mood of Mayday as dark, in part due to the fact it was assembled after her mother’s passing, but she is always capable of balancing and blending emotional content in a way that makes it ultimately hopeful. The music here certainly possesses a richly serious tone, but Myriam Gendron (like Leonard Cohen) is able to infuse her darkness with a subtle, powerful light that reminds us that even the most pitch-black night is but a transitional state. Beautiful work.

 

Press links

SPIN – The Exquisite Agony of Myriam Gendron

Pitchfork – Mayday review

Bandcamp feature – Absolutely No Strategy

Le Devoir Interview – L’eau, la rivière et le bord de mer de Myriam Gendron

Uncut feature – Hymns Ancient And Modern

Stereogum – Myriam Gendron’s Open Book Approach