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Sound Off: Erin Lang & the Foundlings- You Are Found

Posted by Jer / September 23, 2010

Erin Lang and the Foundlings Sound Off is a new kind of album review, one designed to provide our editorial opinion on some of the truly gorgeous music coming out of Montreal while incorporating your opinions in the review process. Send us comments, tweets and insights and we'll add them into the review. If Sound Off works, it will provide a dynamic, on-going document of this city's music. So chime in. Or, don't say anything and this review will be just that, a review.

You can get people's attention by making a lot of noise. Or you can perk their ears by hardly making any noise at all, by making the right noise at the right time.

You Are Found, the debut album from Montreal's Erin Lang and the Foundlings, specializes in the latter. Take the first song. It starts with the sparse strum of a clean electric guitar. Her voice, airy and light, comes in after a few bars. Eventually, backing vocals and extra guitar parts join the mix, but the song never picks up its tempo or deviates from its minimalist beginnings. 'Daisy', like the rest of the album, relies on silence, on the space between notes and melodies. It's an arresting sound and one that's not easy to pull off well. It takes the courage to let things breathe, to know when to say no to adding other instruments or sounds just for the sake of it.

You Are Found is filled with good decisions in this respect. Produced by Mario Thaler (the German producer responsible for the Notwist's ambient beats) and with musical direction from Roger O'Donell (the Cure, Psychadellic Furs), the album stands out from the typical songwriter/guitar stuff by blending synthetic beats with Lang's warm vocals. You are Found was inspired by Lang's move to Europe a few years ago, and the dislocation that such a migration induces. She's back in Montreal now and the album stands as a document of travel and wander, of being lost and found.

Songs range from memories of high school loves ("You're Coming Home") to vivid descriptions of treacherous storms, be they meteorological or emotional ("Lightning"). Throughout, Erin's voice is clearly the most important (and enjoyable) instrument; an atmospheric layer that sits on top of the other sounds. But at points it seems a bit too breathy. For some songs ("Daisy", "You're Better Off") this works well; her voice disappears into itself to gorgeous effect. In others ("Until Then"), it feels forced and unnatural. Still, she has a knack for building the dynamics of a song vocally. In one of the album's stand out tracks "Your Better Off", she leaves almost a 6 second pause before launching into her final chorus. The wait is wonderful restraint and the silence says as much as any other lyric in the song.

But that's just my opinion. What's yours? Take a listen to some of her songs here and leave a comment, or email me and I'll incorporate your thoughts at the end of this review.

Erin Lang and the Foundlings have their Montreal launch party for You Are Found this Friday, Sep. 24, at L'Inspecteur Epingle (4501 St. Hubert) with Folly and the Hunter, Holy Oak and David Simard.

photo by elio smith



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