When I heard of the release of Un Blonde’s new album, Good Will Come to You, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. My exposure to Un Blonde was not through any previously recorded music, but from two recent live performances which left me a little puzzled. The first of such occasions was when Jean-Sebastian Audet, the mind behind Un Blonde, opened for The Acorn in Ottawa. He was accompanied by a bass player and drummer. Their songs seemed to be centred around very loose playing and singing from Audet. His sense of rhythm and time was uniquely his own, fluctuating according to his own internal pulse. The issue was that his drummer was not on the same page, and could not lock in to what Audet was doing. That combined with his tendency to abruptly end songs gave the show an amateurish feeling.
The second time, at Arboretum Festival, the drummer was gone, and Audet and his bass player were a little more free to wander. I still can’t say I was captivated by the performance. I decided to give Good Will Come to You a spin to see what Un Blonde could put together in a controlled studio setting. On this record, those same features that puzzled me in a live setting are used to great effect. The album is without question loose and meandering, but it allows you to lose yourself in its unfocused nature.
Good Will Come to You is made up of 21 mostly brief tracks. Some instrumental, some sung by Audet alone, and some with a large, soothing harmonized soul chorus. Each song comes across as a snippet in a stream of consciousness. The songs do not necessarily feel sequential or related. When one ends, another starts up in a new place. His shows had that same quality, but at first I couldn’t quite appreciate it.
That being said, I don’t think the only thing necessary to enjoy Un Blonde was time to familiarize myself with his music. The expansive vocal harmonies give his songs a rich, full sound that I felt was missing from his shows. There are layers of sounds in the background, including birds chirping, cars driving, and little instrumental inflections, that immerse the listener in a peaceful scene.
I do feel that in the wandering feeling of Good Will Come to You, there are some songs that really shine, and others that fall flat. A good back-to-back comparison of this is the lovely instrumental track called “Open Sesame”, and “I’m Free”, the track that follows it. On “Open Sesame”, The stumbling guitars on top of a driving bass of are absolutely serene, and a perfect example of the strengths of this record. “I’m Free” feels like walking into the room in the middle of a conversation. The fade-in puts you into a song without context. It’s followed by music that feels disconnected to me, until it trails off into the next song. Fortunately, the majority of the album is the former example of beauty.
Hearing Good Will Come to You definitely makes me want to give Un Blonde another shot live, now that I have a better understanding of what he’s going for.