thu 25/04/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: Myriam Gendron - Not So Deep As A Well | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Myriam Gendron - Not So Deep As A Well

Music Reissues Weekly: Myriam Gendron - Not So Deep As A Well

The surprise reappearance of the Canadian stylist’s interpretations of Dorothy Parker’s poems

Myriam Gendron: following her own pathAntoine Peuchmaurd

Myriam Gendron's debut album Not So Deep As A Well was originally released in 2014 by Feeding Tube, a US label run by the prominent music writer Byron Coley. When it came out, he wrote that she was a “wonderful if spectral guitarist and singer, whose signature sound was as light as it was intoxicating. This album glows with holism and is one of the most beautiful evocations of times past and present and future you will hear this year.”

Coley found out about Canada's Gendron when she played a concert dedicated to the songs of Michael Hurley, the Greenwich Village-associated singer-songwriter whose first album had been issued in 1963. A tape of Gendron found its way to the ground-breaking music writer Richard Meltzer – who had been instrumental in the career of, amongst others, Blue Öyster Cult – who passed it to Coley. Another luminary impressed with her was Andy Warhol confederate Gerard Malanga, who had seen her perform at an evening devoted to the Beat Generation-connected poet Charles Plymell.

Myriam Gendron - Not So Deep As A WellGendron’s first album was recorded at her home. Its nine tracks are settings of Dorothy Parker poems which were published in the 1936 book Collected Poems: Not So Deep as a Well. She had found a copy in a Montréal book shop. The album was followed in 2015 by the “Bric-à-brac”/”The Small Hours” single, which again framed the words of Dorothy Parker.

What surrounds the Not So Deep As A Well album is fascinating, but without what Gendron had recorded the resonance which has resulted in this reissue could not have materialised. The 11 tracks on the new release – the 2015 single has been added – take words which are open, sardonic and gently self-lacerating – the overt wit Parker is known for was side-stepped for the poetry – and places them in a setting as sparse as the home-recorded nature suggests. Yet Gendron’s circular acoustic guitar is full and, with her direct, Moe Tucker-like voice, entirely fills the space. Spare, yet dense.

Not So Deep As A Well could have been recorded in Greenwich Village in 1963. It has an otherness suggesting it is an artefact from any point in the past – or the present. Nonetheless, it was completed in 2014. This isn’t to say that Gendron is a throwback more that she was following her own path, which she has continued to do.

She had children after Not So Deep As A Well and her next, to date latest, album arrived in 2021. Ma délire initially drew from a paper she had written at university about Leonard Cohen’s recording of “The Lost Canadian” – “Un canadien errant,” a Québécois ballad with deep roots. Ma délire was also inspired by her discovery of the 1971 Dominique Tremblay and Philippe Gagnon album Présentent avec le stainless steel ça roule. Ultimately, Ma délire featured traditional songs from France, Quebec and the US. And now, the clock is wound back to 2014.

The reappearance – and on a British label – of the distinctive Not So Deep As A Well is a surprise. A very welcome one.


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