Published Sep 11, 2018In the six years since releasing her last album, 2012's Travelling Love, Elisapie has grappled with darkness and reconnected with her community in Northern Quebec — both aspects that inform her new release, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl. You can hear the emotional complexity immediately, with opening track "Arnaq" pairing ominous percussion with squealing electric guitars and vocal crescendos. This frenetic sense of chaos and composition continues throughout, a possible effect of the album's long gestation period and a fast and live recording process.
There is a significant role of patterning in the pacing of the record. Repeated lyrical motifs create a sense of growth on "Call of the Moose," and the flutter of the horn on Elisapie's delicate cover of Willie Thrasher's "Wolves Don't Live By the Rules" is reminiscent of a Philip Glass composition. "Qanniuguma" features Beatrice Deer and puts an emphasis on the rhythm as it slides, clicks and rattles into a more joyful refrain. Each track follows a living pulse of its own creation.
Where there is struggle for Elisapie, there is also a sense of hope stemming from a new understanding of her own strength (notably the theme of the penultimate "Darkness Bring the Light"). The album concludes with the sweet piano and guitar melody of "Ton vieux nom," which tells the story of a world in chaos and the power of holding onto the past. The album's only song in French, "Ton vieux nom" is a gentle way to end an album so rooted in layers of sound. As an elder describes his memories of birth, Elisapie sings over in Inuktitut, and then in French, bridging worlds as the album closes. (Bonsound)