31August | Saturday
The Ballad of the Runaway Girl
The Ballad of The Runaway Girl, joue de ces singularités : mélangeant inuktitut, anglais et français ; imposant une musique désertique aux rythmiques ancestrales ; des syllabes s’étirant et s’épanchant sur des pans autobiographiques. Rolling Stone France
On her fourth album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, she [Elisapie] synthesizes stories from her eventful life with hypnotic arrangements that channel '70s rock, indigenous folk music and the low, moody rumble of barnstormers like Tom Waits and Morphine. NPR
Ambassador for Inuit culture, Elisapie represents the wild and rough beauty of the North. Her new album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, is the musical tale of an expatriate Inuk.elisapie.com
The Far North is not at the other end of the world, it is in the center of mine.
In September 2018, Elisapie released The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, her third solo album. Arguably the most significant work in the singer-songwriter’s career, the album earned her a nomination for Indigenous Album of the Year at the 2018 JUNO Awards and a feature on the 2019 Polaris Music Prize short list. In addition to taking her all over North America and Europe, this intimate album has amassed great reviews. Rolling Stone France called the music a delicately violent album that seduces as much as it questions, while NPR said Elisapie synthesizes stories from her eventful life with hypnotic arrangements that channel ‘70s rock, indigenous folk music and the low, moody rumble of barnstormers like Tom Waits.
On The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, Elisapie sings about the different facets and challenges of being a woman, but also an adopted child, a mother and a lover. Through this exploration of her northern roots and her femininity, we learn about an Inuk who is proud of her origins and who works for the recognition of her people's historic difficulties.
Some of her inspired compositions show her emotional stages. The song Ikajunga, for instance, approaches her experience with post-partum. In a similar vein, Don’t Make Me Blue tells a mature woman’s love story, while Rodeo echoes Elisapie’s desire to leave her birth-village, Salluit, as a teenager. There is also the touching Una, a reconciliation song in which she asks her biological mother what she felt as she gave up her child in adoption.
Other songs allow the artist to take positions on Inuit and Indigenous issues. On Arnaq, Elisapie honors missing and/or murdered aboriginal women and girls. On Ton vieux nom, the only French track of the album, she calls on her people to reaffirm their pride. Through the aerial Darkness Bring The Light, written by Joe Jarmush from Suuns, she evokes the communities who were sent by the government to the Arctic Circle to protect Canada's territory.
There are also the treasures of Inuit and Native music that Elisapie found in the archives of CBC/Radio Canada that inspired this opus. This includes Call of the Moose, a masterpiece by Willy Mitchell that is a heartful cry for the defense of the territory. Quanniuguma (which means if I was a snowflake) is an ode to Inuit animism, and The Ballad of the Runaway Girl is a song written by her uncle. Not only was this last piece a major influence on young Elisapie’s musical awakening, it beautifully shows her need to escape her reality at that time. Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules is another cover. This emblematic song of the Inuit culture was written by Willie Thrasher, who was sent to a residential school in the south. He lost his language and his traditional Inuit way of life as a result.
The 11 songs that constitute the album are nestled together perfectly to form one story, Elisapie’s. The Ballad of the Runaway Girl is a poetic endeavor driven by urgency, doubt, gentleness and sensitivity. It’s a fully assumed work that embeds herself in life; an artistic manifesto that erases the desire to escape. Co-produced by Elisapie, Joe Grass and Paul Evans, the album was mostly recorded live in a lakeside chalet with Robbie Kuster (Patrick Watson) and Nicolas Basque (Plants and Animals). Other precious collaborators added their touch to this monument: Leif Vollebekk, Joe Jarmush (Suuns), Jason Sharp, Natasha Kanapé-Fontaine, Chloé Lacasse and Howie Beck (mixing).
Ambassador for Inuit culture, Elisapie represents the wild and rough beauty of the North. Her new album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, is the musical tale of an expatriate Inuk.
Elisapie’s journey started when she was given up for adoption as a baby, on the tarmac of an airport. She went on to grow up in Salluit, dreaming of the South. Then came her escape to Montreal, where she started a family and forgot about the extremes of the North.
The artist is now reconnecting with her origins, offering her soulful down-home folk music as she tenderly looks back on her heritage. Her style is direct as she tells her story and makes aboriginal musical classics shine. This album goes back to her roots, with both soft and raw moments and her very own mix of Inuktitut, English and French, unveiling the woman behind the music.
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