“gentle and reflective” – Americana UK
“absolutely marvellous” – One Chord To Another
“the urgent softness and crafted lyricism of Leonard Cohen” – Riff Magazine
Why don’t you stay/and throw stones in the lake? / Time’s an illusion/the waves barely moving / slowly enough to forget where we were…
What better place to begin the story of Michael Feuerstack’s fifth full-length record than at its end? With Harmonize the Moon, the Montreal songwriter returns to the gentle sparseness that made up the majority of his first album, Tambourine Death Bed (2013), since dropping his Snailhouse moniker. It may be closing a loop or opening one—or, more accurately, both— depending on the moment you look. As Feuerstack reminds us on the album’s dreamy final track, “Why Don’t You Stay?,” time is an illusion. So why not stick around? All over Harmonize the Moon, the nature of that illusion is incredibly elastic. Some moments seem to stretch on forever; others are illuminated only briefly, like fiery embers popping into the sky, extinguished just as quickly as they’re recognized.
While Feuerstack arranged and recorded Harmonize the Moon completely solo at his apartment in the spring of 2020, the songs that compose it were written over the past couple years, on wanderings and tours as well as at home. He embarked on a slow process of balancing the poetic with the narrative, producing songs that flow naturally instead of adhering too rigidly to established forms. The result is a collection that’s pensive but playful, introspective yet generous, and achingly intimate. Snippets of conversation and noise—the sonic fragments, both manipulated and natural, swirling around Feuerstack’s life as he recorded the album—are often employed as the connective tissue between songs, heightening its seeking feelings, highly personal but plucked from public life. They’re not random, but they’re not not random—kids in the alley behind his house make noise; announcements crackle over the intercoms on trains from Chicago to Warsaw.
– read Three Great Things feature on Talkhouse // watch Michael on Paper Beat Scissors TV –
The tone is tentatively hopeful throughout. Over deliberately thrummed acoustic guitar and minimal drums, Feuerstack moves slowly and with intention, rendering his transmissions in intimate arrangements and his warm, expressive voice. He conversationally acknowledges the unpredictable courses of existence (‘I Used to be a Singer’), the qualities of liminal spaces (‘In The Waiting Room’), and sends an ode out to the weary, the tired, “the weak and the uninspired” (‘Call of the Tired’). Flourishes of eerie electric guitar brighten the darkness on ‘Bathed In Light, and, over the earthy sweetness of the title track, Feuerstack makes the case for allowing oneself to ebb and flow like the ocean tides—to embrace the strange harmonies of being. Big questions about transformation, adaptation, and acceptance float easy on airy, lilting melodies, drifting through a mesmerizing landscape of myriad sonic and emotional textures.