In keeping with the caprices of the weather in the dead of winter, Montreal-born and Ottawa-based musician Gabrielle Giguere released her second album as Her Harbour on February 3. Go Gently Into the Night, an apt reference to Dylan Thomas’s haunting villanelle, pours sweet strings onto a heavy, winding reflection on the passage of time. Fortunately, Giguere’s vivid descriptions of all things cold will displace the frost that may have settled into your bones, as this mystifying album leaves you willing to reconcile your differences with this brutal season.
Although the album begins quite softly, it is easy to succumb to the intensity in Giguere’s pleas throughout “Hewing Crowns.” The piano and double bass pair with wails through a wind tunnel as she repeats the eerie line: “You conjure demon in me.” The dulcet vocals, supported by Philippe Charbonneau of Scattered Clouds, are entrancing as Giguere weaves through a melancholy dream. Charbonneau’s double bass also resonates throughout the album, rising and falling with the spirit of each song. Her Harbour’s ghostly atmosphere is further constructed by Mika Posen’s strings, Olivier Fairfield’s vibraphone, and Dave Draves’s keys.
A swaying rhythm appears in “Below Breaths,” in which Giguere croons “I lay in books of your objections.” The track articulates the cycles of loss and return, enticing anyone with a similar tale to breathe along to the tune. Widely-lauded “Chime and Knell” follows, unravelling expectations of the spring in chilling waves. Whereas the spring is long-anticipated, its promise of growth is coupled with sobering undertones of death. Spine-chilling entreaties carry on to the emphatic “Memento Mori,” proving that there is tenderness that persists in grief.
The album teems with imagery that seems to render the stages of sorrow as natural as the phases of the moon. “Death Mask” calmly unearths past maladies as the tone of the album shifts towards resolution and acceptance. “I won’t make you weep” is counteracted by the assertion that “time will leave you weak”. Perhaps it is the extraordinary power encased in this seemingly gentle selection of tracks that makes the album’s end feel like waking up from a fever dream. However, it draws to a close that makes the world outside feel quite a bit more forgiving.
– Review by Maddie Jennings