This year, Chris Garneau embarks on a world tour with the first full-band performances in support of his new album Yours. We last heard from the enigmatic singer-songwriter on his 2013 release “Winter Games”, a deeply personal and nostalgic work written from the frozen pastures and decaying crops of a farm in upstate New York.
Yours is his most realized work to date—we see an artist grappling the reins and forcing us into his line of sight with the urgency of an active volcano. Produced in Lyon with Maxime Vavasseur and Benoit Bel, the album’s varied tones reflect Garneau’s nomadism, expanding his hushed folk with the resonance of psychedelia-fused dream pop; with a sound that is at once rich and gauzy, the album is a stunning collection of songs from a distinctive artist at the peak of his creative forces. Yours is out November 2018.
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Yours is the basket of gifts a wiser and more contemplative Chris Garneau brings with him on his return from time in the seclusion of nature. You can hear the depth of the perspective granted to him by distance and the passage of time in the sonic vastness of each track. Coming down off the mountain and the bone-chilling cold of Winter Games, Garneau sees the world has continued without him. The pain of family grappling with old wounds, the yearning for connection in relationships, the anger at a world spinning deeper into suffering are all here. This time these stories connect to mythic undertones outside of time. That something can be at once so intimate and so enormous is a paradox that Garneau walks, through his own past and off into the distance.
France, where Garneau spent part of his childhood, gives him roots. He spent two months in Lyon recording Yours with co-producers Maxime Vavasseur (of the band Witxes), & Benoit Bel (trained under Valgeir Sigurdsson & Mio Thorrisson, Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavík, engineered Björk, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Kate Nash & more). Being in the studio with Vavasseur and Bel was a profound experience for Garneau, and the results of this deep connection can be heard in the raw organic matter of the album.
His last full-length album used vicarious narratives, but Garneau returns to using his own life in his work on Yours. With this new album, Garneau’s voice becomes our voice. He achieves this not by telling a universal story but instead by diving deep into what is distinct about his own wound. He comes through as a mender of broken worlds, set apart by the anguish and generative force of creativity. Garneau gives to us, in this album, a world with red storms the ferocity of Jupiter’s eyes. He feels somehow separate from this world, as the winged beast Geryon from Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, a text that served as part of the foundation of this album. Garneau hovers above this red planet and sings for those with no voice. The domestic dramas, the mundane reality of putting a body into the earth, the enormity of ecological devastation all play out on this universe. Garneau covers a lot of territory, from the sweeping vistas of a heartbroken world in the title track to the darkened corners of a no-name small town bar in “No Lord”, with haunting vocal support from Emily Jane White and Keren Ann, respectively.
Garneau has other companions bringing him back to earth. Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum lends her voice to “Torpedo”, giving the song a delicate intensity. Greg Fox (Liturgy & Ben Frost) brings drums to the cosmic expanse of “No Universe”, a track that finds beauty in the potential for annihilation to wake us up. Morgane Imbeaud of French pop-folk band Cocoon, provides backing vocals for “Gentry” and “Tower”. The result of all of these contributions is a sound that is at once full and gauzy.
Yours is a complete world that, in the end, Garneau is ready to part with. He leaves it in your hands, with all of its contradictions.
special guest Emily Ritz
Emily Ritz is a musician and visual artist who creates otherworldly soul music. A native New Yorker, Ritz spent nearly a decade in the Bay Area making art and performing/releasing music with bands Yesway, Honeycomb, and DRMS. Though her music and art remain very much inspired by the lush landscapes of Northern California, Ritz moved back East to Hudson, NY in 2016. There, she began performing under her own name for the first time and recorded her first solo album Pattern Recess.
Over the years Emily has shared the stage with artists such as Deradoorian, Toro Y Moi, Laura Veirs and Mirah, and collaborated with members of My Morning Jacket, Thao With The Get Down Stay Down, and Two Gallants.
Ritz struggles with Lyme-related arthritis, which at times has left her totally disabled. If you listen closely to her songs, you can hear her experience of feeling trapped in her body, while trying to hold on to the hope for a return to health. The darkness and devastation that comes from loss of mobility is certainly felt, yet the overwhelming sensation given off by these songs is one of healing. It’s rare to find an artist through whom the bliss of creation flows so freely.
Pattern Recess is guided by Ritz’s strong, soulful voice and experimental sensibility. While classic elements of jazz and R&B can be heard, Ritz’s sound is enticingly off-kilter due to her subtly unusual melodic choices and inventive use of electronic manipulation. She uses her voice to weave complex harmonies and avant-garde patterns while delivering poignant and romantic lyrics. Confident and idiosyncratic, Ritz calls forth other bold female artists such as Jenny Hval, Amy Winehouse, Circuit Des Yeux, Solange, and early Grimes.
The production on Pattern Recess is varied and fresh. Underneath Ritz’s powerful vocals, her reverb-drenched guitar picking ripples like waves on a pool. Amidst the dreamy fluidity, are moments of charmingly inventive percussion and unexpected instrumentation. Odd time signatures and satisfying syncopation deftly brandish excitement and the occasional sci-fi sound effect adds a playfully cosmic tone. While her intimate songwriting and delicate fingerpicking are akin to the contemporary folk of Jessica Pratt and Angel Olsen, electronic neo-soul twinges call forth the seductive trip-hop of James Blake.
Pattern Recess was released on April 27th, followed by a solo tour during which Emily played 26 shows across the US and back. She is planning on another US tour this winter and is currently recording her next record.
For more information about her music video with Camila Falquez check out http://takeitbackproject.com/