JF ROBITAILLE plays the Drake Underground Saturday (June 18), 8 pm, as part of NXNE. See listing Rating: NNN
Critics have rightly picked up on the influence of Leonard Cohen in JF Robitaille's music, but on Robitaille's debut full-length, the songwriter shows he's got a foot in the indie rock tradition as well.
Back in Montreal after stints in the UK and New York, he enlists Montreal talents including drummer Chris Wise (Elephant Stone, Sunfields), engineer Adrian Popovich (Tricky Woo) and Murray Lightburn from the Dears. The production is clean, with cello, harmonica and organ filling out the drums, bass and guitars.
The result is a poppy breakup album that works best when we're let in on what the singer is missing. Shuffling Everything's Broken Here channels Jonathan Richman, clever rocker The New Girl is ready made for college radio charts, and Ainsley McWha's backup vocals are sweet on When We Say Goodbye. But much of the rest lags or noodles, and Robitaille tries on different accents and styles. Here's hoping he finds his voice.
Top track: Everything's Broken Here