By Brandon Hoffman –
Even though it just came out last month, writing about Marin Patenaude’s self-titled debut record, Marin Patenaude and the Follow Through, already feels like old news. She has established a loyal local following as a musician, festival organizer, and contributor to the Potato House Community Sustainability Society. There are a lot of us who could sing along long before she even started recording the album. We had been waiting, mostly patiently, for a while.
When Marin released the album last month, it felt like a matter of minutes before it was on the collective CD player and iPod playlist of the Cariboo. The Station House’s supply of CDs was cleaned out in a day or two, so we had to start a waiting list to keep the crowds happy. Meanwhile, bits and pieces of news started trickling in about Marin’s career, further fuelling all the hype. It started small—she’s coming to town to play a fundraiser for the Buddhist centre. Then we got word of her opening spot for Sarah Mclachlan as part of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 26. Everybody likes a local-kid-done-good story, and this is one for the books.
But don’t let all the hype speak for itself. If we did that we’d be heralding the Justin Biebers of the world as great artists. Marin has made something amazing. The Follow Through is a collection of nine songs, with only one clocking in under the four-minute mark. These songs have a way of sinking into your unconscious by making themselves look like simple, catchy little folk-blues numbers. Although certainly catchy at times, Marin’s songwriting has a subtlety and depth that hits on a deep emotional level. You might not even notice Marin’s jazz chops at work, but under those lofty melodies are velvety chords strung together in unpredictable progressions. It takes some remarkable skill to make something so complex sound this natural.
At risk of playing the hype card again, it took an all-star cast to build arrangements around these songs. Cole Schmidt of Juno-winning group Pugs and Crows cooks up some dark and brooding guitar tones, while Polaris Prize-winning violinist Jesse Zubot drops in some haunting violin solos. The one at the end of “Carnegie Curves,” paired with Marin’s unsettling and never-resolving chords, dances you between bitter chills and heart wrenching pangs of nostalgia. When that last line comes – “We took the time but too late” – the sweet resolve you have been hoping for finally comes, and it breaks your heart.
Pianist Tyson Naylor and percussionist Kenton Loewen are well known in the Vancouver scene, backing up the likes of Dan Mangan. Kenton lent his production to this record, and the chemistry between he and Marin made something that while not always comfortable, is consistently beautiful.
Peggy Lee’s cello work and Scott Smith’s pedal steel fill out the midrange and add loads of tension, while Darren Parris holds down the low end on bass.
Download Marin Patenaude and the Follow Through from her bandcamp page www.marinpatenaudeandthefollowthrough.bandcamp.com/releases, or pick up a copy at the Station House Gallery.
Huge congrats to Marin. I know her local fans will never lose faith in the follow through.