For this review, a good friend at the local campus and community radio station (UMFM 101.5) provided me with the name of an undiscovered and unique Canadian artist.
Laura Sauvage is a singer-songwriter from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Combining elements of garage rock and folk music, Sauvage released a five-song EP, “Americana Submarine”, at the start of October this year.
The EP features a wide array of sounds and influences, demonstrating potential for Sauvage as an act worth paying attention to. However, while a track like “Dirty Ways to Make Your Money” blows me away, others songs feel too comfortable to offer something new to one’s listening experience.
The album starts off with “The Avalanche”. Initially the song did not grab my attention; its groove is nothing special and as a whole sounds like another songwriter’s attempt to sound like Feist. Irregardless, I didn’t quit on the two minute and 54-second song. As the track progresses into an expansive bridge section of vocal harmonization the music gains some vibrancy. Reminiscent of a 70’s folk rock groove (see the band America), “The Avalanche” becomes musically terrific and intriguing. The break even allowed me to appreciate the song’s comfortable garage rock rhythm when it returned roughly 20 seconds later.
Many of Sauvage’s songs draw relationships, the complications involved, and the crushing dreams of ex-lovers. Lyrically, Sauvage does a great job at conveying these emotional situations. The track “You Think I’m Cruel” demonstrates this ability, as Sauvage tells the story of two people who just aren’t on the same wavelength: “You used me as fuel/to light the bonfire of our love”, Sauvage croons over top of the slow, country-esque balled.
“Dirty Ways to Make Your Money” a real stand-out from the EP. Coming in with a scratchy acoustic, only to be gutturally punched with power electric guitars a few seconds later, this track is pure rock n’ roll. In only 110 seconds Sauvage demonstrates her ability to capture raw emotional feeling. Beatles-esque verse sections coupled with Sauvage’s melancholic vocals paint an image of giving up in a relationship. Even the distorted guitars sound like they are struggling to continue on with the song.
This five-song EP features a collection of great ideas and every song hones in on a specific genre. But my problem comes from the fact that many of these themes have already been explored. Heartbreak has been talked about from Sauvage’s point of view by other artists. Conversely, many of the rhythm sections (like on the track “Subway Station”) have been explored in various sub-genres of indie singer-songwriter music before. “Americana Submarine” could have branched out more, whether that be through more distinct instrumentation or tackling more risky themes.
Laura Sauvage is a strong singer-songwriter and “Americana Submarine” demonstrates this. These five tracks are definitely worth a listen. However, I can’t help but feel that her potential is not fully reached with all of these songs. I look forward to any future full-release by Laura Sauvage, but I would love to see her take more risks both thematically and musically.