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LET IT DIE  •  Feist

It if were possible to propose marriage to a CD, I might go down on one knee for Feist's Let It Die. I'm not sure if it would turn out to be a Vegas quickie or love everlasting, but for the past week I've been in such a state of heightened enthusiasm for this disc that I'm hardly thinking straight.

You know how it is when you're in those dry periods where nothing musical excites you. Everyone's trying to sound like Coldplay (who are ho-hum anyway, in my humble opinion) or the Ramones or some '80s band. Then along comes the breeze of something truly fresh to restore your faith in pop music. That's what Feist has done for me.

She's done it with a mix of classic values--melodies to die for, lyrics that ding the bullseye of the heart, and a lovely, understated voice that has echoes of Blossom Dearie and Rickie Lee Jones. How she presents all this is a revelation. For example, on the beguiling "Mushaboom," the arrangement is a quiet conversation between buzzy acoustic guitar, trombone, vibes and handclaps. Out of these minimal strands comes giddy beauty. She uses similar elements on "Lonely Lonely" and the time-stopping title track, which turns on the phrase "The saddest part of a broken heart / Isn't the ending so much as the start."

She can also be extroverted, as on "One Evening," a song that sounds like it could've been on the Bee Gees' Main Course album. And I don't mean it's Bee Gee-esque as much as I mean it's that good. Later in the disc, Feist covers a Bee Gees disco-era hit, "Inside And Out," and makes it her own. Ditto on her takes of "Secret Heart" by Ron Sexsmith and the devastating closer, "Now At Last," a forgotten standard written by Bob Haymes in the early '50s for Blossom Dearie.

So who is this girl? Leslie Feist hails from Toronto. Prior to this stunning record, she built a varied resume, playing guitar for Broken Social Scene and lending guest vocals to Peaches, Kings of Convenience, and Jane Birkin. She recorded Let It Die last year in Paris with producers Chilly Gonzales and Renaud Letang. The album went gold in Canada and won her a Best New Artist award at this year's Juno Awards (Canada's Grammies), plus "Mushaboom" has been a hit in Europe. Whether her subtle, addictive pop will catch on here, who knows.

But she's got one raving suitor of a fan. Won't you marry me, Feist?   • Bill DeMain

Leslie Feist
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by joanne k. at:
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