Brisa Roché is an American artist – she’s lived much of her life in France and though she has five (mostly excellent) albums behind her it’s this, her sixth, Father, that will truly resonate. Poetry, art, songwriting – her chief influence is the work of PJ Harvey – it all culminates in this meditation around grief and influence as she looks at the life and work of her father, dead by age 48; she reflects, rejects, re-calibrates – he is the artistic fuse that sparks this work.
This is album-as-memoir – a grief laid bare through songs that feel like photographs. We open with the song 48, an aching homily to the death of her father. Her “hungry heart and empty plate” both personal and artistic.
It’s catharsis through grieving (Fuck My Love) and beautiful balladry is the core of this set of works (Patience). Roché’s voice is possibly an acquired taste, but I’d gladly fill my cup with Cypress; she’s all Van Morrison and Patti Smith in the writing, Bjork and Iris DeMent in the vocal delivery. That, by the way, is a winning combination.
I’ve no idea if Roché has heard Iris DeMent but it’s that same kind of folkish, gospel-inflicted voice, mercurial – hopeful, seeking. The clarity across Engine Off, the fragility of Cant Control, the sleepy, majestic quality of Before I’m Gone, here is a voice that is magical and the material is strong – it won’t be for everyone, but that only makes it better for the ones that it reaches, for the people with an open door.
I’ve been listening to this album for a month or so – and I can’t get it out of my head. I hear it when it’s nowhere near the stereo. I seek it. I hope to hear it. I have to hear it. It’s one of my favourite sets of grief-stricken, hopeful, heart-filled songs that I’ve heard in many years. A near-masterpiece. It’s Brisa Roché’s best set of songs. But beyond that it’s something I have to recommend. Something you have to hear. It’s a new gold standard in confessional singer/songwriter fare. I hear PJ Harvey and Kate Bush and Florence + The Machine, Patti Smith and more besides. I hear heart and soul and life. Get this. Check this out. Your world will change as a result of listening to this. You’ll know straight away.