There are few things I dislike more than cold rain. March in Canada can be a dreary month, and on a grey day, before the plants have had a chance to recuperate from the winter, there is little for me to enjoy outside of the house. Despite all that, this time of year does have a saving grace. There are certain albums that feel perfect when I’m sitting indoors, watching the rain fall. These albums tend to be laid back, slow, with little tension and an ability to make me feel a deep, warm comfort. The other day I found a perfect companion for a day like this: Ludovic Alarie’s new record, L’appartment.
L’appartement fits all of the descriptors above, and manages to meet those criteria with true musicianship and creativity. The album rolls along from one acoustically-oriented track to the next, keeping the pace slow and making sure to explore all of the musical ideas presented with plenty of instrumental segments. Over a bed of delicate and resonant guitars, calm, floating melodies come in the form of Ludovic Alarie’s soft-spoken voice. At first, the stretched-out melodies, combined with the flowing nature of the record, can make the songs sound indistinct. It’s as if L’appartement is one long, drifting journey rather than a compilation of individual pieces of music.
When I first heard L’appartement, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the playful interaction between the members of Ludovic Alarie’s band. None of them take centre stage with virtuosity, instead playing off of each other with delicate deliberation. It’s the kind of playing that can only come from a group of musicians that are listening intently and paying attention to every subtle detail. It came as only a slight surprise to see many of my favourite current musicians, all from the Montreal scene, contributing to L’appartement. Included in Ludovic Alarie’s band are Warren Spicer, a favourite songwriter of mine, and Matthew Woodley, one of the most remarkably subtle modern drummers. Both of those guys are members of Plants and Animals. On bass, Mishka Stein, most well-known for his work with Patrick Watson, lends his smooth, patient, and melodic playing to the group, which suits Ludovic Alarie’s sound exceptionally well. Adèle Trottier-Rivard, who plays with Louis-Jean Cormier, is also featured on the record, but I am less familiar with her music.
L’appartement is a must-hear if you are looking for Ludovic Alarie’s particular vibe. This is an album that I will not hesitate to put on when I’m cooped up inside on a miserable day. If you’re facing the same kind of weather I am, Ludovic Alarie will feel like a big blanket and a hot cup of tea. Sit back and enjoy.