Rebecca Foon is a new name to me, however this Canadian cellist has had a long career as a solo and band performer in her homeland. She has been rightly acclaimed over the last decade or so, and yet this, her latest album, released back in February, is the first under her own name.
With guest musicians of the calibre of Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor), Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson), and Patrick Watson himself guesting on vocals on Vessels, this intensely personal and intimate album is a masterclass in the less is more theory of performance.
With Foon spending more time on the piano than the cello (which still features throughout, its haunting sound adding power to the delicate opening instrumental New World), this pared back, intimate sound is absolutely beautiful and draws you in.
With delicate and beautiful piano work, and the sparse arrangements that bring Foon’s warm vocals to the fore on tracks like Pour, with its understated guitar accompaniment, treating them as another instrument to the melting pot. Pour slowly builds and builds to a mesmerising cyclical conclusion.
The album itself has a strong environmental message throughout, indeed royalties are being donated to Pathway to Paris and its 1000 Cities initiative for Carbon Freedom, which is a fantastic cause and one we should all support.
With its sparse and intimate performances, the songs are immersive here, and it really feels like you’re in a small performance room (remember those?!) with Foon and band playing these songs just for you.
It is so hard to convey intimacy and the subtleties of music where there’s as much going on in the spaces between the notes as in the notes, and yet this album does that perfectly, and with the beguiling mix of cello and piano on tracks like Ocean Song, it really moves you. This is real music for the heart and soul.
There is a lot of power within these tracks as well, especially on the driving guitar-led sound of Wide Open Eyes, with its repetitive metronomic beats. Again, it just builds and builds into something bewitching, crafting a wonderful aural soundscape behind it.
Bands in the 1970s were trying ridiculously hard to meld the aesthetic of the classic world with the sensibilities of rock, which meant they wrote rock songs then wanged some violins and cellos all over it. If you want to hear what the mixture of the classical and rock world sounds like, this is the perfect example of genre crossing sounds I’ve heard to date.
You get the beautiful minimalism of Waxing Moon, where the vocals again are to the fore, with the piano and cello playing a sparse supporting role, reminiscent of folk artists like Sandy Denny where the piano is merely the backdrop to the words.
Vessels, the duet with Patrick Watson, is again a perfect late night song. Listening to this album on headphones is a truly immersive experience as the stripped back ethos is sublime here, and interestingly with very little percussion throughout, the tracks are allowed to ebb and flow and drift into their own musical space without the anchorage of a restrictive beat.
Ending where we began, with a reprise of the instrumental opener New World, this encapsulates the album perfectly, a cyclical piece that closes off one of the most innovative and intriguing albums I’ve heard this year.
Stepping out from my musical comfort zone and immersing myself in this album has been amazing. Foon is note perfect, and this album is peerless. If you want to discover the most beautiful thing you’ll hear this year, then Waxing Moon is the album for you, a real treasure to listen to and absorb.
01. New World (5:27)
02. Pour (4:06)
03. Another Realm (3:24)
04. Ocean Song (4:15)
05. Wide Open Eyes (3:46)
06. Waxing Moon (4:22)
07. Dreams To Be Born (4:14)
08. Vessels (4:42)
09. This Is Our Lives (5:14)
10. New World Reprise (2:07)
Total Time – 41:37
Rebecca Foon – Piano, Cello, Vocal
Jace Lasek – Organ, Guitars, Synth, Vocals, Drums (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 & 10)
Richard Reed Parry – Double Bass, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar (tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9)
Mishka Stein – Electric Bass (tracks 3, 4, 5, 8 & 9)
Sophie Trudeau – Violins, Vocals (tracks 3 & 9)
Patrick Watson – Vocals (track 8)
Record Label: Constellation
Country of Origin: Canada
Date of Release: 21st February 2020