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Julie Doiron / Dany Placard - Julie & Dany Music Album Reviews

Julie Doiron / Dany Placard - Julie & Dany Music Album Reviews
On a collaborative album, the Canadian indie stalwarts draw inspiration from domestic life during lockdown, penetrating the familiar haze with sharp insight. 

Pandemic-era art has given us a shorthand for a collective experience—sourdough starters, whipped coffee, Pelotons, loneliness, confinement, boredom. Over time, adopted by enough of the bored and lonely, repetition sands away the emotional texture until these signifiers feel flat and impersonal. Canadian indie stalwarts Julie Doiron and Dany Placard’s Julie & Dany, recorded in their New Brunswick home during the province’s mandatory isolation from neighboring Quebec, adopts the lofty goal of infusing the staid with fresh meaning. These loose, unvarnished tracks—evocative of the couple’s earlier work in groups like Eric’s Trip and Plywood—penetrate the post-traumatic haze with sharp, keening insight.

When the parameters of life shrink to the size of a home, so does the well of inspiration, but Doiron and Placard sift through the domestic like expert miners. Opener “Dégèle” plunks us into the loop of their routine after a humanizing false start in the first few seconds. As the song gets going, so do we—taking in a little fresh air, dancing lifelessly in the kitchen, planting flowers to stave off creeping fear. Specificity makes this thrumming, harmonized chant—a chorus that translate roughly to “I’m going outside for a little air,” and later, “The earth’s gotta thaw”—all the more convincing, plucky guitars charging ahead like someone determined not to think too hard or too much.

“Lying,” two songs later, is when reality catches up—grief, fear of an unknown future—and its simple, incantatory lyrics sail on Doiron’s plaintive vocals. Intimacy might be a natural consequence of these homebound songs, written by two people cohabitating through a crisis, and the use of regional phrases like “Chu” (“I am”) instead of formal French “Je suis” (also “I am”) lends further charm: We’re pulled in close, sharing internal monologues and mayonnaise from the fridge nearby. Through this diction, the duo further anchors the record not only in a particular (bad) year but also in a particular place, a particular lens through which to see the world.

Julie & Dany’s experiments with degrees of scale are another canny way to ensure the record stretches beyond its physical confines. Where “Lying” and “Vénus” are soft and inward-facing, “Jean-Talon Market” opts for bombast and electric riffs, David Bowie’s “Heroes” with the grit and insouciance of a Liz Phair song. “Tomate” slogs through sludgy guitars and barroom vocals, imbuing the planting of tomatoes with imminent danger. This nimble back and forth between defiance and defeat means nothing gets stale: Sounds and feelings go from large and sweeping to huddled in a corner, whispering into a microphone, a polarity that rings true to lived experience.

Not every track is a revelation. “What If I Said” sounds like a paler derivation of Doiron’s excellent 2004 song “Dirty Feet”; even her evocative, signature vocal style can’t find its pulse. Closer “My Brain” feels more like a sketch than a finished song, too spare and twee to stick the landing. Still, this record is an artifact that achieves what many attempts to depict isolation have not—distilled emotional truths, of varieties both universal (“I’m sick of my partner”) and specific (“I’m sick of these tomato plants”). The album shows its seams, a DIY aesthetic that’s defined both artists’ careers, and this intimacy offers welcome relief. If the approach hasn’t changed, the world has, and Julie and Dany foray into new territory with comforting familiarity.

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Julie Doiron / Dany Placard - Julie & Dany Music Album Reviews Julie Doiron / Dany Placard - Julie & Dany Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 Rating: 5

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