With several years, compositions, and performances under her belt, Jade Bergeron has had some major milestones in the last year. Not only was she signed to Montreal label Bonsound in 2018 for her project Flying Hórses, she also worked tirelessly to put together her grandiose sophomore release entitled Reverie. The album finally arrived in February 2019, and serves as tenacious and unyielding follow-up to 2016’s Tölt. Whereas Tölt‘s focus was on the sense of nostalgia of childhood memories, Reverie takes a sharper look into the emotional turmoil of fractured love and loss.
At risk of sounding hyperbolic, the truth is that there are few Canadian musicians who compare to Bergeron in their ability to convey emotion so directly through their music. Her compositions are, for me, so raw and honest in their expressions, they serve as vignettes conjured from her soul. As such, the vibrations that ring from the piano and cello strings throughout Reverie then are left for our ears to interpret into, perhaps, the emotions that she felt. To me, that is the most pure experience one can take from listening to a composition. Much like the compositions themselves, the feelings can be fleeting. But, even if only for a moment, the listener can grab onto the emotional journey that each song represents, then Bergeron has succeeded greatly in her efforts. It is a fully engrossing piece of work that not only evokes feelings of being tethered or trapped, feelings of discomfort in a situation or place, and a sense of recovery and peace—much like the feeling of the sun on your face after a violent storm ravages the world outside your window.
Reverie is more atmospheric and imposing than its predecessor. The first song, “Awake,” begins with a soft and droning cello. Much like the start of a day, it is peaceful. But a couple minutes in, the song takes a turn towards minor notes and instills a sense of anxiety. Maybe that anxiety is for the coming day ahead, or for the unknown future that lies ahead. These moments of beauty and discomfort continue throughout the album, exploring the space between comfort and conflict, ease and tension, freedom and constriction. There are swells of staccato piano, as in the song “Fearless,” for example, that convey the lighter side of the journey. But there are dreary and heavy moments when the cello and piano delve into darker places that convey a sense of tension, discomfort, and overall conflict. Perhaps this represents a conflict in one’s own mind, a conflict with another individual, or a conflict with something else altogether. The listener is left to discern the compositions on their own.
Reverie is a huge achievement, and is an experience that isn’t easily shaken off. Bergeron has described this album as a “breakup album,” but even that assessment is too modest and reductionist. While much of the emotional weight of this album was born out of difficulty, there is redemption in there, too. There is recovery, and a sense that even in darkness there can be light. Or even when everything is falling apart, the sun will rise tomorrow. That “Awake” and “Asleep” each begin and end the album, respectively, could not be more fitting. Each day is like a microcosm of our lives—each contains moments of peace and struggle, yet time goes on and we persist. Perhaps it is our strength and ability to overcome, to see these moments through that is the most important part of the story. To me, this is the message that Bergeron has succeeded in offering us the most.