Cold House Burning is a meditative reflection on the trials and tribulations of ennui, one that feels deeply personal to Delean but universally understood.
Right now it makes sense to release music dealing with isolation and feelings of belonging. That said, the amount of new music attempting to capture this zeitgeist is eye-rolling. Many projects feel more contrived than inspired.
Montreal-based Camille Delean has created something different: an album reminiscent of early 70’s folk spearheaded by her warm and dynamic voice. Cold House Burning uses diverse layers and textures to tackle themes dealing with lethargy and isolation without sounding forced or redundant. Cold House Burning is a meditative reflection on the trials and tribulations of ennui — one that feels deeply personal to Delean but universally understood.
When you’re in pain, those feelings manifest themselves through people and places you no longer trust or feel safe with. On “Birthday” she sings, “The time must be wrong/You said life would be long/And no one would hurt me”. Trust is hard to come by when you feel so far removed from anyone else. Isolation breeds uncertainty. “Nowhere is safe/Afraid of everything I’ve seen before,” she sings on “Afraid of People”, examining the fear associated with inactivity and languor once solitude becomes a reality. Delean looks to the past and present in hopes of enlightening the future.
An ethereal saxophone drifts through “Sleep In”, blending with Delean’s vocals to create one of the album’s most transcendental songs. But it’s not until “What I Lost in the Snow”, the album’s final track, that we hear Delean at her clearest: “Caught in a circle repeating/Iced in and set with no feeling”. With melodies that float with careless precision, eerie violin production, and a piano grounding the track, the instrumentation of “What I Lost in the Snow” brilliantly creates an atmosphere that reinforces and exemplifies the record’s themes.
The entirety of Cold House Burning features exceptional co-production by Delean and Michael Feuerstack (Snailhouse, Wooden Stars). Every expertly crafted song displays Delean’s maturity. It takes a very careful and intentional songwriter to craft an album with so many textures, yet so much space. The beauty of Cold House Burning is in the hollowness of the sound. Consecutive listens open the record to reveal a richer understanding of Delean’s state of mind.
Though the timing of its release couldn’t feel any more fitting, the way Delean handles her malaise on Cold House Burning eclipses the current period of social distancing everyone will inevitably associate it with.