I am admittedly an album-centric music fan; the bulk of my writing for DOMINIONATED over the last year has been about LPs, with only a handful of individual songs catching my fancy enough to want to write about them. Still, I’m not immune to the persuasive powers that a single song can impress upon me. Inspired in part by Sean Michaels’ ever-splendid work explaining the appeal of his favourite hundred tunes of 2020, I’m making an effort to switch the speed toggle from 33 ⅓ to 45 RPMs more frequently in 2021, starting with the absolutely alluring “What We Have” from Montreal-based singer-songwriter BEYRIES.
The opening track from her 2020 album, Encounter, “What We Have” finds BEYRIES heading back to something she knows well: it and all the songs on Encounter were written on the recently restored 1923 Heintzman & Co. piano that once belonged to her grandmother, the very same instrument BEYRIES cut her teeth songwriting on when she was young. Though “What We Have” is fully fleshed out with delicate instrumentation, it retains the intimacy of its origins. Its sparest of lyrics suggest a relationship in decline but a spirit unwilling to let go. “Sadness dug a hole in me,” she admits before cocking her ear heavenward out of that same hole saying, “I hear the church bells’ melody.” It’s sad, it’s lovely; it’s the feeling your head intuitively knows before your heart concedes. In a year filled with terrible encounters, it’s an admission that no matter the outcome of a relationship, its existence is preferable to not having ever had the relationship in the first place.