Written by Tony Wang
Music, in the digital age, can sample from an endless selection of noises. Sounds from past music, modern synthesizers and unrecognizable static can all be assembled into compositions that, upon listening, we would all feel comfortable calling music. However, with the great power that the digital age has given us, music has had trouble sounding ‘complete’, ‘wholesome’ or ‘motivated’. And such is perhaps most relevant in talking about Saudadem, L.A. Foster’s most recent EP and a farewell to her time spent in Montreal, but I will return to this later on.
The four track EP itself is indeed a great listen. Foster’s soulful-with-a-tinge-of-sultry voice is really soothing to the ears. Her voice on this EP has strength yet is still able to carry through the melodies with a gentle ease. The qualities of her voice is a comforting medium in a landscape of singers who often settle for vocals that are boastfully powerful or simply too delicate.
The production on Saudade was exclusively handled by Stephen Ramsey, this EP marking his production debut. Given this debut, I have not much to say about the production from a technical point of view. Nothing sounds sonically out of place and the vocals and instrumental both come through clearly. In fact, I very much enjoy playing the spacious sounds of this EP at exceeding loud volumes. And even though Saudade was but only four tracks in length, Ramsey was able to provide variations in instrumentation that maintained my interest throughout, all while maintaining the spacious quality of the instrumentation. Overall, a great job by Ramsey.
However, there was really only one issue that I had with this EP, an issue which harkens back to the idea of sounding ‘wholesome’. Saudade to me is a case of simply adding vocals to instrumentation. Whilst Foster’s voice and Ramsey’s production and mastering are great both in their own respects, both remain separate entities throughout the EP. There is a lack of chemistry between the voice and the production, so to speak. It’s as if while Foster and Ramsey both had a message to convey with their art, both messages were separate and distinct in their delivery and content. It’s as if the combination of vocals and production in this case does not add to the value of the tracks. And it is difficult for me to truly uncover what was the cause of this. I suspect that the production, lyrics and vocal melodies are culpable but it truly is hard to say. Making music is always a collaborative effort, as such it is perhaps useless for me to identify culprits.
Anyways, wholesomeness and unity is a big issue for music nowadays and I don’t hold it against Foster or Ramsey for this. At the end of the day, the two came together and through their passions produced an EP that was able to provide me enjoyment and feels. And that is incredibly commendable in it of itself.
Catch Foster’s Saudade release and send-off party at L’Emerald / No Name Bar (5295 Parc) on November 28th. Supporting acts include John Shape and Scott Hardware. $10. Patrons to this event will receive a postcard which will later be sent from wherever she is in the world, with good wishes and a download code to the EP