Myriam Gendron understands timing and the fluid nature of permanence. A seven-year gap between her debut, Not So Deep As A Well, and her stunning new double album, Ma Délire – Songs of love, lost & found, holds out a little longer as the solo guitar intro of opener, “Go Away From My Window,” hums lackadaisical for over a minute before her voice enters the fray. In that space, though, we are transported into this world rife with love, heartbreak, and solace. In those 90 seconds, an entire universe is created.
Gendron’s approach is simple on the surface. Even as the sonic palette on Ma Délire expands on Not So Deep As A Well, it’s all built around Gendron’s (mostly acoustic) guitar and voice. This minimal palette obscures the immense scope of Ma Délire; there is a mountain of emotion, history, and nuance spilled across these aural pages.
Opening Ma Délire with John Jacob Niles’s “Go Away From My Window,” a song that’s not exactly traditional but has an ancient spirit, tells us what we need to know. Gendron’s arrangement for fingerpicked guitar is lilting, an uneasy boat carried away by a quickening current, an apprehensive foundation that sets the state for her plaintive vocals, singing, “But remember dear, you really are the one I did love best.” It’s a footnote for the entirety of Ma Délire, an album ultimately about love and loss expressed through history, sung and forgotten, as lyrical and poignant today as they ever were.
“Love doesn’t spare anyone,” Gendron sings in French on “C’est Dans Les Vieux Pays,” across electric soundscapes aided by the introspective howl of Bill Nace’s guitar. Within these desolate walls, hard truths emerge like embers from a long-dormant fire. “Love makes more of a bloodbath, Than a hundred wolves in a flock.” Gendron’s voice throughout Ma Délire is saturated with the aching experience of living, with the somber feelings that overcome the sanguine green shoots where heartbreak begins. These ageless songs – and I include Gendron’s four originals in that as they could have as easily been written 100 years ago as yesterday – yearn for real connections; undaunted longing for emotional reciprocation.
And then there’s “Shenandoah.” When I first heard this album, it had my attention from the opening plucks, but when I heard the instrumental incarnation, “Shenandoah (I),” I knew Myriam Gendron was channeling something even deeper than the opening songs suggested. She stated in the Foxy Digitalis interview that, “If I was a religious person, that melody would be my God!” It’s a statement straight from my own heart, but where Gendron turns this all-time number on its head is in the second version that closes the album. It’s intimate, not for us. It embodies the anguish in the words, “Oh Shenandoah, I need you so … Much more than you will ever need me,” the message leaving her body not as words, but as the ghosts of every love departed across a perpetual night. The resonant textures and distance in her voice with the quiet strums of an acoustic guitar and the gentle birdsong transform this into an eternal masterpiece. To take a song so grand, so immaculate, and distill it into a quiet, intimate confession like this is unbelievable.
Ma Délire – Songs of love, lost & found is a complete and total triumph. There aren’t many artists who understand and can harness the immortal spirit that flows through traditional music like Myriam Gendron. For all her talents as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer, this is her greatest gift.