With a platinum-selling album and opening slots for Paul McCartney behind them, Québec City’s Pascale Picard Band is already a name brand to Canadian listeners. Both critics and audiences agree that Pascale and her sound both captivate the mainstream and transcend it.
Pascale Picard‘s smooth voice combines with catchy pop-folk hooks and lyrics focused upon frank dissections of life events and relationship drama. Undertones of blues and electronic and occasional explosions of rock help to fill out Picard’s sound, keeping the group from being easily pigeonholed despite their conventional pop structures. There’s just a lot of plain old good songwriting going on from the band, not to mention a hell of a lot of charisma from Pascale herself.
The title of Pascale’s 2007 album, “Me, Myself & Us”, conveys the introspective themes of her music. While at times still falling prey to the same kind of banal metaphor that drags down so much radio pop, Pascale manages to keep her lyrics personal, detailing specific instances from her life, or at least the life of the song’s persona. It’s occasionally awkward — as awkward as our own interior monologues — and that’s the whole appeal. A diversity of emotions and conflicts haunts every song, as layered and finely-shaded as the melodies behind them.
On album, Pascale occasionally lets rip with foul-mouthed invective that would impress Alanis Morrissette at her meanest, but onstage at M for Montreal last night, she and her band were all smiles and positive energy. Her brief stage banter pleased the Francophone audience while her lyrics, as on album, were in English. She and her band pulled off the performance without a hitch. Pascale’s voice sounded as rich and sweet as ever, though, at least to this listener’s ears, curiously more girlish and bubblegum than the mature alt-rocker voice she employs on album. The group brought energy and warmth to even the more sedate songs in their repertoire and, like so many acts at M for Montreal, left us howling for more after their short set was complete.
It’s been three years since “Me, Myself & Us” — we can only hope they’ve got another one on the way, and soon.