Feist – Multitudes: Review

Singing from the heart, Multitudes by Canadian Singer-Songwriter Feist offers a glimpse of her journey since her adopted daughter’s birth, where different moments have relayed powerful, emotional reflections. Some are awe-inspiring, while others get trapped within the circumference of sounds that have a lesser consistency; Feist’s vocals elevate these Alt Pop-Rock complexions on these sensibly attractive constructions that can sometimes feel meek compared to others. Though Multitudes incorporates different instruments that allow the orchestration to have a more realized worldview, when you get more tempered, ballad-like, and broken-down production, it doesn’t always reflect this visceral vividness heard on the opening track “In Lightning.” It doesn’t have an expansive purview sonically, but as it subtly aligns and balances the powerful writing and vocals from Feist rounds the dimensions to make the production feel more potent through its purposefulness. That purposefulness is due to the instrumentations giving space to let Feist shine over these modestly complex instrumentations, where the tenderness reflects the melancholy within Feist, even when most songs aren’t as profound.

Guitar strings glide through Multitudes with character, almost taking control of the directional production it takes. The acoustics bleed beautifully through the layers, guiding the tones of other instruments like the Electric strings (guitar & bass), cello, drums, and more. The way it deconstructs the production keeps us more centered on Feist’s writing and performance as she speaks with so much viscosity you’re bound to feel her vocals more powerfully, which can be beneficial. We get to hear the rawness in her voice as it reflects themes of identity, relationships, love, etc., through intricate storytelling and visually vibrant wording, like in “Become the Earth.” In the song, Feist takes on the perspective of a tree, giving us a look at how people close to you change, especially their relations to you over time. As she would sing, “Flee ’til you’re free, and stay loving me/Some people have gone and the people who stayed/Will eventually go in a matter of days,” visualizing the reality of life, especially when it comes to the connections made, and the history shared. Think about The Giving Tree and how it reflects its themes; Feist does so here, though more illustrative through words.

Feist’s writing is an essential guiding force that makes Multitudes feel emotionally invigorating, especially compared to the more colorful Pleasures, where there are lesser broken-down acoustics and more atmospheric and melodically driven performances. We hear more broken-down composites and fewer tendencies to let non-natural atmospheric backing harmonies become a defining principle. It wants us to feel the energy she imbues through her performances, like the feeling of loneliness in “Sad Song for A Friend,” which brings togetherness through a composite of emotions piling from the pandemic. Most of these feelings come from the era where I bet many of us spent time reflecting on ourselves and where we’re going less, as seen through people leaving jobs to chase something they love. We hear it beautifully and vividly in “Hiding Out In The Open,” an oxymoron title where Feist reflects on a connection she made with someone because there was no hiding amidst a pandemic where you got limited with many outdoor activities. We hear it when she sings, “Hiding out in the open/Maybe I’m gonna let you down/Nothing’s gonna make us new/What’s done is not gonna undo,” making us feel complete exposure.

With past albums having balanced acoustics blending within a current of Alt Pop-Rock rhythms, incorporating more synths and bass, Multitudes takes it to another level where the essence of background depth gets displaced for a more enriching experience. It pushes Feist’s vocals down different avenues, like on the astute “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” which plays a lot with shiftiness in vocal levels and harmonies. It further boasts the depth of its chorus, bringing grainy and ghostly electric harmonizations that bridge the meat of the verses. Though it can be slightly more downtempo, its use of the instruments offers a balanced platform that boosts the performative attraction of Singer-Songwriters. Keying into unique minimalist production with some songs, it still carries depth within the crevices like violin and piano notes on “Of Womankind” and “Love Who We Are Meant To,” or the subtle backing drums on “Martyr Moves.” 

However, Multitudes does take turns where its production adds some vibrant notes, weaving unique sounds reflective of Feist’s self. Aside from the opening track, we get the enigmatic “Borrow Trouble,” where the production takes its instruments and pushes more than just a few notes to the forefront, unlike some slower-tempo songs. It has distinctive moments of grandeur to showcase her vocal range, but more so reflects this explosion of emotion. On them, she weaves these pop cadences over these beautifully layered instrumentals. Sometimes you’ll get a powerful twist with culturally Irish instrumentations, like what we get midway through “In Lightning” or the wonderfully simple but captivating “Calling All The Gods.” But many times, it’s more tempered and free-flowing with the emotional weight of what is getting reflected by Feist. It’s the essence of being that we hear how poignant the writing ends up being. Feist constructs it through first or third perspectives that embolden its themes further, letting you feel immersed, like with this sensation of a different life and worldview on “The Redwing.” 

More intimate and metaphorically direct, Feist truly lets us in with Multitudes. A lot is working for the album, but sometimes it can get muddled as the minimalist instrumentations aren’t always as compelling. With enough oomph from Feist’s vocals, it levels many songs toward the side of fantastic, and as I sat there, enthralled, I can likely guarantee you will be too.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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