Briga, the captivating songstress from Montreal, delivers an up tempo and enthralling album in Femme. The 11-track album brings together elements of classical, dance, and jazz with the Eastern European flair of Turkey. The record swirls together beautifully, creating an exciting musical soundscape that is impressive as it is intriguing and breathtaking. Its cast of musicians make this record all the more exciting, bringing together the talents of violinist Iva Bottova, Turkish musician Didem Basar, Sephardic singer Tamar Ilana and producer Socalled. Femme is a musical experience that brings together Briga’s talents and worldliness into one neat package.
“Ibrahim” kicks off the record, a folksy Quebecois song that begins with the homely sounds of an accordion as Briga croons softly over its melody. This is the first minute of the song before the track then breaks off into a more Eastern flair, with Femme beginning to unravel and show off its true colours. The dancy, musical interlude that drops in part way through gives the album’s start a fiery and nuanced edge. “Ibrahim” is a fantastic opening that appropriately sets the tone for the record.
“Dada do ta Shes” is when the record finally throws us right into Briga’s travels, with the record taking a sheer turn into its intended direction. Here is where Femme begins to blossom, with Briga’s musical sensibilities meshing well with her worldly influences. “Dada do ta Shes” is a breathtaking track that helps to ease the listener into the world of Femme.
“Dragoi” is a charming little interlude that feels like a lively break, incorporating more Western European sounds all throughout.
This gives way for “Svetulka Rachenitza” to drop in with a raucous force, with Briga seamlessly swirling together Eastern and Western sounds into an upbeat dance track. The energy that permeates all throughout this cut is contagious as it spirals and explodes into a flourish of classical and jazz. “Svetulka Rachenitza” is a number that audiences will enjoy jamming out to.
“Pour Pelin” is another East-West infusion that is more ambient than the rest of the record. Clocking in at 8:44 minutes, we won’t blame you if you feel like you need to marathon your way through this track, but if you take the time to listen through it you will realize it is a marvel of a song. “Pour Pelin” is melodic and breathtaking in Briga’s uncanny way of using her music to paint a captivating picture of how she sees the world.
“420 Elfassi” is an unexpected hip-hop cut that presents a surprising amount of swagger, perhaps lending itself to the metropolitan scene of Montreal. Briga here sounds insatiable, her vocals crooning over a jazz-hop instrumental that is a delicious melange of North-American and Eastern European sensibilities. “420 Elfassi” unfortunately ends too quickly, but we would absolutely love to hear more of this sound.
Track 7’s eponymously named “Femme” is an upbeat romp that beautifully perpetuates the insatiable energy of the record. The composition here is stunning, skillful in how it simultaneously shunts the listener into the album’s world while encouraging us to dance along to its ministrations.
“Mama Irena” is a lovely track that comes in at track 8. Its noticeably toned down energy adds a softer dimension to the record, and along with track 1’s “Ibrahim” gives Femme a more folksy and homely feel.
It’s the perfect soft build up to “Café Sarajevo,” a sinister danceable track that may be a fan favourite. The record’s fiery energy here reaches a fevered pitch, with Briga finally turning down the lights as she begins to celebrate Femme‘s home stretch.
“Chanson Moldave” is a fantastic romp that comes in at the record’s penultimate track as Femme continues to bring home the listener in an upbeat and raucous celebration. Here, the record sounds absolutely unrestrained, and while there are very few moments of safety throughout Femme, “Chanson Moldave” feels like Briga truly letting loose.
“Bella Sum” is an appropriately modest ending that closes the album, with guest Eva Salina crooning blissfully over a humming accordion. Indeed, Briga has taken us on a musical journey to Turkey and back to Montreal, bringing her musical influences and coming back an evolved songstress.
There is few to dislike about Femme, a delectable musical concoction that brings together East and West tastes into a memorable dish. Femme has something that everyone will enjoy, whether that be the upbeat affair of “Café Sarajevo” or the musical masterpiece that is “Pour Pelin.” Femme is a phenomenal record rife with fantastic production, a plethora of ear-pleasing musical moments, and a wonderful portrait of the world.
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