Myriam Gendron - Ma Delire – Songs of Love, Lost and Found CS (Feeding Tube, 2021)
"Like its predecessor, Ma Délire–Songs of Love, Lost & Found is as much a novel step forward as a meditation on the past. This quality is due to Gendron’s impressionistic approach to her material, which exudes respect but never serves as mere homage. On one track, “Poor Girl Blues,” she combines one of the oldest blues songs, “Poor Boy Long Ways from Home,” with the 1800’s tune "Un Canadien Errant" (“A Lost Canadian”), originally about the banishment of French-Canadians and famously covered by Leonard Cohen in 1979. Singing in French, she weaves a story of lost family, lost friends, and a lost country over fingerpicked guitar that nods in all historical directions at once.
Transformation abounds on Ma Délire. Gendron remakes two songs by American folklorist John Jacob Niles, including "I Wonder as I Wander.” It’s essentially a Christmas carol, but Gendron strips away religious aspects to create a secular elegy to love’s power. On two versions of the 19th century sea shanty “Shenandoah”—one instrumental, the other nearly a capella—she morphs the story of a fur trader into a universal paean to nature. Even on originals such as “La jeune fille en pleurs” (“The Young Girl in Tears”), she adapts lyrics from multiple traditional songs into a wandering rumination; with her halting electric guitar and Chris Corsano’s accentual drums, it evokes a lost Dirty Three track.
According to Gendron, what unites the crossbred pieces across this 15-track, 76-minute album are the eternal themes of love and longing. But just as important is Gendron’s own voice, a distinct, clear tool that works on multiple levels. With patient deliberation and gut-level resonance, she often sounds like she’s simultaneously intoning a children’s song and painting a portrait of complex emotion. Some singers approach similar territory—think of how David Berman talked and sang at the same time, how Daniel Johnston treated serious subjects with childlike wonder, or how Haley Fohr uses low tones to vibrate her music—but Gendron’s mesmerizing intonation has no exact parallels. Her voice is often both frank and enigmatic, grounded and limitless." - Marc Masters (Pitchfork)