Christine Fellows 
Stuff We All Get 

Vivat Virtute • 2022

Stuff We All Get is an ode to humanity and the connections that we all share. It’s a world, a journey, and a balm. 

I was walking around a lake in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on a winter afternoon the first time I pressed play on Christine FellowsStuff We All Get. The ecosystem of sounds (plucked, strummed, tapped, swelling) provided a perfect accompaniment to my stroll because Stuff We All Get is an alive and organic collection of songs. They reflect our world back to us as if through a prism: slowed down and refracted, and beautiful to witness.

Stuff We All Get is a life-affirming call for collectivity in which Fellows “asks us to consider the possibility that we have more in common with each other than we might think.” The second song, “SWAG,” immediately drops us into a fragmented and loping melody: “Now the popular imagination trolls the Amazon, saves our information / Now our passwords grow with the grassroots, know all the best routes, get to it faster.” Fellows weaves natural imagery in with modern, internet-adjacent language, describing the dissonance between the connection we all crave and the ways we try to achieve it. Strings pulse and build around a solitary piano melody. 

On some tracks, like “Ghost Particle,” whimsical lyrics belie the depths Fellows sing to throughout the album—those of human fragmentation and connection. That being said, there are some ideas that we can only access through poetry and suggestion. The music plays into the space between us, buttoning together a patchwork of sounds and melodies that carry so much momentum. Airy, rhythmic voices from the ukulele, vibraphone, shimmering cymbals, and human noises like snaps and claps create a ticking clock of an arrangement. Extra beats here and there, stops and lurches, remind the listener that this machinery is organic. 

On Stuff We All Get’s final song, “Time”, Fellows sings alongside a breathing lap steel guitar played by Christine Bougie. She describes arguably one of the most honest and meditative of human activities: digging holes. Digging holes brings us together like no other. “Time is the best of the things we waste,” she sings, nodding to the paralyzing and joyless fear of wasting time that we hold to white-knuckled in our post-industrial society. The last line of the song takes this idea one step further into the light: “Time is the best of the things we make.”

As well as being a songwriter, Fellows creates stop-motion movies and sound design for films. It’s easy to hear the influences of these practices in her compositional choices and the deeply visual world created in Stuff We All Get. The melodic lines have a controlled and edited weirdness to them, and the lyrics are playful without sacrificing clarity. The precision and poignancy of the message throughout the album creates a satisfying listen. The depth is there if you want it, but it’s also perfectly enjoyable to turn off the analytical mind and let yourself be carried along in a river of cello, lap steel, and pattering percussion.

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Ben Arsenault 
Ben Arsenault