Michael Bastarache – Half Truth

9.5/10

Folk is a genre that has been tried and tried again. While there is no shortage of folk artists out there, these days it still seems to remain a sound that is rarely landed in an authentic and unforgettable sense. Michael Bastarache is one of those few artists who achieves it, and Half Truth is one of those albums.

Hailing from Atlantic Canada, Bastarache’s heart wrenching, yet soul-soothing sound is the result of various collaborations with friends, all of whom seem to only deepen the beauty in his song writing. Half Truth is Bastarache’s third album, recorded at Moonbeam Studio in Nova Scotia and released in the spring and early summer of 2014 by Bastarache and good friend Paul Vidito (who also plays and sings on all of Bastarache’s albums).

Refreshingly, it is hard to analyze the album in terms of songs; it just doesn’t make any sense, but while it diverges slightly in sound from his previous album Timberwolf, a careful listen to the two hits you with the same fiery, maritime-gypsy-meets-delta-blues sentiment. The album opens up with “The Wolves Serenade,” in which you hear the blues-like banjo that immediately throws one’s mind back to Timberwolf. Even upon the first listen to Bastarache’s out of this world, soul-soothing voice, you will not be sure whether to cry, or to jump up and tell all of your friends to listen to this brilliant music coming from Canada’s east coast.

Following the haunting beauty that is the “The Wolves Serenade,” the album turns to “Coal Mine,” a song whose jaunty pace exemplifies Bastarache’s ability to mould his sound into different, unexpected, but equally powerful audible realms. What follows is the angelic ballad that is “Denine,” whose lyrics make you think that the song could have been written by Henry David Thoreau if he was ever as good a musician as he was a writer. From there, the album continues in a slower vein. Listening to “Je Suis Saoul,” you feel like you should be wandering aimlessly in the dark in a small town. Nailed down by great harmonies between Bastarache, Lisa Abramowicz and Kimberly D’Ambrogi, “Je Suis Saoul” outlines Bastarache’s maritime gypsy perspective on life, a viewpoint that he admits in the Zeppelin III-esque, “Behind My Eyes” which you may or may not understand.

Picking up the pace after the lead of “Behind My Eyes” is “Creative Control,” which melds a soft bluesy sentiment with the fuck-you tone of an acoustic punk song, and a chorus that speaks of creative frustration of an ambiguous nature. However, just when you are contemplating the very nature of this frustration, the song ends with a short laugh (presumably from Bastarache) and you are reminded that even though he is able to emulate that fiery attitude, he is still having fun.

All of these various sounds and themes come together in the second last song “Grow,” which becomes the most dynamic song on the album. The song reverberates between a mix of playful, bluesy, finger-picking electric guitar, and an opposing dropped-down, spacey, and haunting tone that is perfectly brought together by Bastarache’s unforgettable voice and Thoreau-esque lyrics. The album closes with a return to the same beautiful sound it opened with in “I Dream a Highway.” Reminiscing about Tennessee, Joesie Palmer’s violin playing perfectly complements Bastarache’s voice, and is combined with the kind of bluesy guitar he refrains from highlighting throughout the rest of the album. Just as it starts, Half Truth ends on a note that leaves your soul in a beautifully carved space of refreshing, mutual solitude between artist and listener.


Written by Jordan Hodgins

About Jordan Hodgins 65 Articles
Jordan, in an attempt to avoid an overly-romantic bio, has chosen to stick to the cold, hard facts about her life. She has been reading ever since she can remember, but didn't decide to try her hand at writing (heh heh) until she had no other choice while attending university. Jordan has always been an incredibly passionate person, and for her, writing and music provided the perfectly blended outlet to keep her relatively out of trouble. Jordan's heart lies with the kind of old-school blues and gospel that gave rise to and inspired Elvis; she enjoys anything with soul, or has the ability to unite an eclectic crowd according to (in)tangible ties. Jordan's goal in writing for Bucketlist is to organize her intuition in a way that makes sense enough to which at least one person will relate. Enjoy!

4 Comments

  1. hey! nice to see this album getting some attention. Just wanted to give a heads up. I played all the banjo, electric guitar, bunch of harmonies, recorded and produced everything. I sing Je Suis Saoul as well. If you get the chance to check out the Timberwolf album over half those songs are mine as well and all the banjo, guitar etc is played by me and engineered and produced here in moonbeam studio. Sometimes if ya cant get the recognition you deserve you have to go and grab it for yourself! thanks so much for the review Jordan! I just wish Mike could have given you a few more details. lol

  2. Woah holy crap, life of rock and roll. Paul seems to get the credit for the album that was reviewed but lost his mind about a bunch of stuff from the past. I don’t internet war. I will never read this thread ever again but wow, what was written about my music and last two albums by Paul Vidito is quite detailed and completely fuckin insane and inaccurate. Super weird, like super weird, I wont even bother to explain why what Paul wrote in his paragraph above is absolutely bat shit crazy, but believe me I write and sing my music and play my guitar.

    • actually id love for you to explain what wasnt true about what i wrote. lol. its just the truth man…it hurts sometimes. what songs were actually yours again on timberwolf? whos did all the banjo, electric guitar etc etc etc on all the albums? who produced the shit out of all your stuff? i dont “internet war” either. but when someone works their ass off and helps another get ahead and then doesnt get the credit they deserve for it….kinda sucks. Or like signing a contract giving some other dude you just met the rights to all of the songs on an album…ahem…”timberwolf”…..when only about 15% of the shit on there is yours lol. even one of the ones that was “your song”…was an old blues traditional song…and another was completely co-written by me…so that leaves what 2 songs that you wrote on the album…how can you give over rights to that? lol such a joke. calling me bat shit crazy is the most bat shit crazy thing ive ever heard. Im an honest and loyal person and you know that. you’re just unhappy because i called you out some some really nasty things youve done to the people around you…not getting into details. im glad you did good with the album i recorded and produced for you for…how much did you give me again…300$

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