Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Album Review - The Road That Led Me To Fall

The Road That Led Me To Fall
by Ma Petite (out now)

I recently got my hands on a copy of Ma Petite’s first solo album, The Road That Led Me To Fall. Ma Petite is the solo project of Indiana Avent. Avent has performed as a violinist for many years with some big names including Bon Iver, Amanda Palmer, Gotye and Soko (just to name a few). This album is a collection of her own songs and chronicles her adventure into the world as a solo artist. She is helped along immensely by a band of talented musicians on this album who bring all kinds of instruments including cello, trumpet, flugelhorn, double bass and banjo. The album was recorded after Ma Petite moved to Canada a few years ago. So inspired was she by this move that there is even a dedication to the country itself in the CD notes (and in addition, some stunning landscape photography on the sleeve).

The Road That Led Me To Fall opens with some soft guitar before Ma Petite brings in her oh-so-gentle vocals in an almost candid friend to friend way. I suspected I was in for a very cute and gentle album simply by the tone of Ma Petite’s voice in this first track. I have always enjoyed simple vocals with acoustic instruments as much as I enjoy a big voice and layers of instrumentation. Ma Petite sings proudly here with a distinct Australian accent similar to the likes of Missy Higgins, Clare Bowditch and Angie Hart. After a little research I discovered that in fact Ma Petite has played violin for Missy Higgins, and it’s clear to see the similarities in music and vocal style. Her vocal tone is soft and breathy with an innocence delivered with clarity and heart. The sentiment of the first song 'Ticket to the Other Side' seems to set the pace for this whimsical album. The themes of letting go and journeying into the unknown are reflected lyrically in this first track (and are hinted at throughout the entire record). I have a inkling that these themes were brought about by the change of geography and the adventure of moving over the seas to pursue a dream. Gotta hand it to the artists who give it all for their art.

The second track along, 'Morning' follows a sweet and bubbly path as Ma Petite layers vocals with soaring little harmonies. There are some gentle builds in this song that sit pleasantly in the field of folk. I enjoyed the horn in this piece that heralded the joy felt in an almost picture book style morning. 'Lonesome' follows suit with a romantic longing underlined in the lyrical themes. I really liked this song for its simple keys and guitar arrangement and the angelic “ahhhhh” in the chorus.

'Man about Moon' is led in by gentle guitar picking before picking up the tempo and intensity with horns and drums. This was one of my favourite tracks of the album. There is a cute ukulele section towards the end that works beautifully in tandem with the horn. Next along, 'Fall' is a slightly more sombre song with its dreamy and melancholic chords brought to life with a haunting vocal choir arrangement. I love the theatrics of this song and the fact that there are no lyrics as such – just ethereal sounds. This song is the shortest on the album but provideds a lovely interlude midway through.

I think due to the sweet yet slightly sad undertone of 'Lone Sailor' (the next song along) I had imaginings of a newspaper boat floating on a paper sea in a children’s puppet show. Perhaps it’s the sweetness and softness that had me thinking of children’s puppet shows. Or perhaps it is the whispering like quality of Ma Petite’s voice that had me thinking of children and their love of fantastical story telling. Either way, this song has a child like nature in its delivery with whimsy and innocence. The violin is the thread that glues this piece together – as it wails up and down much like the ocean itself.

The theme of the ocean is followed through in the ballad 'Waterlogged'. The sea is left behind with the next track 'Make like a Bird'. Again, I was struck by the childlike nature that Ma Petite seems to embody in her voice and her lyrics. I could imagine that this song would be nice to play to children. “I wish I could grow me some wings, I’d make like a bird, fly across the seas…” Lots of longing with gentle imagery makes this a nice quiet time song.

Ma Petite really shows her penchant for observational story telling and everyday lyrical phrasing in the next song, 'I Like That You Like Books' which chronicles the affection a newly appointed barista feels for a customer who likes books. This was probably the first time I have heard the word “douche” used in a song. Somehow Ma Petite makes it cute and sweet.

'Two Big Thick Duffle Coats' is the second last song on the album. The uke matches Ma Petite’s voice as the song chugs along with an energetic upbeat tempo. This was another favourite of the album for me as the harmonies blend well together with the gentle rise of the tune. And I loved the horn solo again – it might be a flugelhorn or a tuba. I’m not sure exactly, but I enjoyed it immensely. The last song, 'Words to Keep' starts with the lyrics, “Goodbye sweetheart, it’s time to part” – a perfect choice for the end of this lovely little album. This last song is a simple and sweet lullaby-like ditty.

Ma Petite may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you like your music introspective, gentle and sweet and delivered with soft and intimate vocal heart, then you may just fall in love with The Road That Led Me To Fall.

Lou Endicott gives The Road That Led Me To Fall three and a half Hutchence heads out of five...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love it or hate it? Agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!