Camille Delean’s debut album ‘Music On The Grey Mile’ was a reflective travelogue depicting her years on the move. It showed an incredible talent starting to find her feet. The songs were captivating with honest, and slightly humorous, lyrics.
In the three years since its release a lot has changed. In the last three months everything has changed, but you get my point. Delean’s new album, ‘Cold House Burning’, is an examination of stasis and solitude brought about by illness. As Delean found herself being housebound her dialogues started to focus internally. The days merged into one as her daily routine did not change much, she had to find things to celebrate in her life what were once mundane. These victories, and defeats, pepper the album.
Musically this melancholic malaise is reflected. The instrumentation is stark. Simple guitar chord progressions are backed by clear piano and horns. What is not austere is Delean’s vocals. This is where the compassion and tenderness of the songs come from. Throughout ‘Saturn Gravity’ Delean’s vocals are ornate laced with a warming, welcoming tone. Then they gracefully lilt before a soaring chorus, the music follows her lead, creating one of the standout moments on the album.
The track that works the best is ‘Birthday’. Here Delean really ramps up her internal monologue. “Keep my head down while disasters accumulate”, “How many years have gone? Have we been here long?” and “The time must be wrong, you said life would be long” ask answerless questions. But the point does not seem to have a definite conclusion, just to keep yourself mentally challenged. While Delean ponders her seclusion the music gently swirls around her, like dust being billowed across the floor by an open outside door. It does not make sudden broad movements, but constant, almost tender, undulations.
The album features a who’s who of Montreal musicians featuring co-producer Michael Feuerstack (Bell Orchestre, the Luyas, Snailhouse), Jeremy Gara (Arcade Fire), Mathieu Charbonneau (Avec pas d’casque, Organ Mood, Last Ex), Philippe Charbonneau (Scattered Clouds, Esmerine), Joshua Zubot (Land of Kush) and Adam Kinner (Land of Kush, Leif Vollebekk). This revolving carousel of talent gives the album more of an understated punch than her debut. The melodies created intertwine through her alluring vocals.
‘Cold House Burning’ was written during a period of seclusion at home while Delean was dealing with a sudden illness. The album explores how we deal with ourselves when we are cut off from our friends and family. Sadly, this is something that the majority of us have had to deal with over the past few months. Each song works as an internal conversation. No real conclusions are drawn, but that is not really the point.
The album works best as a reminder for how to remain positive when everything around you is not. Delean might have been living in isolation but she is celebrating her little victories. And this is the takeaway from the album. As she sings on ‘Medicine Morning’ - “It’s gonna be a fight all day / I’m almost delighted...”
Words: Nick Roseblade
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