Week 21: “The Water” by Feist

In the span of about 18 months, Leslie Feist when from being just another face in the crowd of Canadian indie institution Broken Social Scene, to being an international superstar whose songs sold products for Apple, and whose uncanny ability to count to four snagged her a spot on Sesame Street. Her quick success may have cost her the respect of a certain crowd of ironic-T-shirt-wearing hipsters, but it didn’t change her ability to write haunting, introspective songs like “The Water”, from the 2007 album “The Reminder”.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Everything is delicate. Feist managed to get the musicians on this track to play as quietly as possible without actually stopping playing altogether. Maybe she put a sleeping Rottweiler in the room, or maybe she had them all play in mittens, I don’t know…but the result is a delicate-sounding recording in which the mics pick up every sound in the room; rattling drum hardware, squeaky wooden floors, slight shifts of weight by the musicians. Awesome.

2. The double bass. The slow 1-2-3 of the song’s time signature is accentuated by the wonderful “doo….ba-doo….ba-doo…” line in the finger-picked double bass. Both eerie and relaxed, it somehow makes me think of waltzing ghosts.

3. The reverb. In those rare moments when she decides to sing with a bit of volume (as on the word “understaaaaaAAAAnd”)  her voice seems to last forever, as if she’s singing in an empty church.

Recommended listening activity:

Dropping leaves into a river from a bridge and then watching them appear on the other side.

Buy it here.