There Will Be Stars - Elisapie Isaac

Pheromone Records

The idea of ‘Arctic Chill’ in musical terms is a cute play on words and brilliant branding. But, unless you’ve heard it, you have no idea how stunningly beautiful it can be. Elisapie Isaac grew up in the chill of Salluit, Nunavik, the northernmost third of Quebec, home to the Inuit people. In 2001 she teamed up with French-Canadian composer/guitarist Alain Auger in the acclaimed duo Taima. There Will Be Stars at face value, is navigational advice to anyone unfortunate enough to lose their bearings in the barren expanse of tundra and ice of Canada’s high north. As Elisapie’s grandfather told her, “To avoid getting lost you always have to look where you’ve come from.” That may go a ways in explaining how she can comfortably stand unflinching and so utterly alone on these songs. Her fragile and vulnerable tone is intimate to the point of being unsettling to virgin ears. You feel as if you are intruding on a very private moment, which admittedly heightens the allure. But, listen a little longer and there are no empty spaces. There Will Be Stars is filled with sonic vistas, painting a lush portrait of Canadiana anyone from the Cowboy Junkies to kd lang would kill for. It’s an acid-country pastiche of classic strings, echoes of Fender Rhodes and tremolo guitar that envelop Elisapie’s haunting voice. The material moves from spirited skips to downtempo smolders with English and Inuk lyrics that draw from the personal but embrace the human condition. There Will Be Stars, and if there will be justice, one of the brightest will shine under the name, Elisapie.