NEeMA paints her wall GOLD
Montreal-based singer presents her latest album
By Byron Toben
Montreal singer NEeMA launched her fourth album last week at the Sala de Rosa. One hundred and forty fans jammed in to hear, in the first set, 11 new songs on the CD, one of which, Painting My Wall Gold became the album’s title.
The second set included many songs from her three previous albums, Masi Cho (2006), Watching You Think (2010), which was co-produced by Leonard Cohen and Leave the Light On (2014).
I first met NEeMA back in July 2005 when she opened for the dynamic Marie-Claude Lamoureux at the tiny Théâtre Ste-Catherine during that year’s jazz festival. I then caught her June 2006 Montreal Fringe show, Journey The Transformation, a multidisciplinary piece that incorporated her spoken word background as well as musical talents.
As a spoken word fan, I had admired her spoken word appearances although ironically her musical video claims that “some things are best unspoken”. While in Toronto in February 2008, I noted that she was featured at its annual Winterfest celebration and popped by that show.
Finally, although she is more in the folksy/bluesy vein, she was invited to the 2009 Montreal Jazz Show at the Savoy room of the Metropolis, which I viewed. Both of her shows there sold out. By this time, she had graduated from a single guitar to a five piece band.
By the summer of 2010, she had played about 150 stops across Canada, Australia and Ireland while studying with Montrealer Karen Young, American Rhiannon and Parisian Murielle Matteau. An extended tour of Europe in 2011 involved 22 headline shows across 13 counties, plus openings for Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck, Elton John and Cindy Lauper.
An extended tour of Europe in 2011 involved 22 headline shows across 13 counties, plus openings for Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck, Elton John and Cindy Lauper.
Emmylou Harris joins NEeMA on vocals on the opening new album song For You wherein the verses wish the listener a toast and a prayer as well as a song. In Angel Undercover the “loner traveler” offers blessings as she assures the little angel that she will be there ’till the very end. The shortest number Papaloko, a traditional Haitian song, clocks in at 2:59 minutes. The longest, Follow Me, lasts 5:04 minutes.
The title song Painting My Wall Gold is to honour your memory although “nothing can be done, nothing can be changed, nowhere left to run, and no one left to blame”.
The excellent band features Josh Zubot on violin, Phil Lallier on guitar, Phil Beaudoin on percussion, Kepler on keys, Pierre Beaudoin on bass and Fred Bouchard on drums. Bouchard and Erizias both double on backup vocals.
NEeMA repeats her launch in Quebec City on April 1 and in Toronto on April 17.
Listen to NEeMA’s Angel Undercover.
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.