In what appears to be another entry in the waif-rock genre, Roxanne Potvin actually harbors not so much Suzanne Vega sensibilities as a John Cale valence. I'm Too Sexy, both satire and self-mockery via ego monitoring, has that flippancy factor, but there's also the mannered/raw rock atmosphere that so marks Cale's work. One must suspect that producer-player Steve Dawson is responsible for a decent portion of that, but just a short glance at Potvin's lyrics in Barricades:
Make a barricade, kick and yell
…reveal that she's not quite the Boho wallflower academic the liner photos seem to suggest. In that, Janis Ian is echoed but with a difference. The Bangles show up, depressed, to indulge in Petula Clark's old Downtown materialism, hoping for release from ennui through mindlessness or perhaps abandon. No, it's mindlessness, as the song ends in a car crash.
Much of Potvin's presence is a cultivated disaffectedness, kind of the punk pitfall of folk with Goth garni, her singing oft a slightly pushed sprechstimme. Fits the frequently sardonic atmosphere, deceptively masqued in Coral Reef Fishes, and the urge to both emphasize notations and yet distance herself and you from them, a voyeur rather than a participant, an aesthetic reporter rather than a Plath. It all hangs together well in a gauzy, sometimes spitting, veil of scrying from the deadlands, an existential DMZ of observance, querulousness, and lament. Catch Magic Rainbows first if you want a prettier contrast of the sparse and the lush with great background vocals by the chanteuse, beautifully timed, then frug-aloo with Dis-Moi que tu M'aimes—again, that Cale vibe!—and you'll be ready for the rest of CD.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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