To pick apart and critically examine the beliefs you once trusted and firmly embraced and let go of all the ambitions you developed from and with them is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can undertake. It takes courage and humility to admit the path you been on is the wrong one and even more to refuse to simply replace it with another equally lacking in fulfillment. And ultimately, to question the very point of not just that path’s direction specifically, but whether or not there should even be a path or direction in the first place is even more difficult. Because then you’re questioning your personal place in the entire cultural, social and economic system, the very context in which that path was formed. The same can be said for decisions about relationships forged with a significant other, even though love and the addiction that surrounds it packs a harder punch when denied or lost. I could go further in criticising the imposition of meaningless linear directions, crushing social expectations, economic straitjackets and the folly of seeing relationships as the default position. But I’d be projecting on to instead of highlighting the context behind the excellent self titled debut solo album released last Friday from Portland singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Faustina Masigat.
What we do know related to the above is that Masigat’s prelude to writing and recording this poignant, spare, cathartic and open record involved a difficult and personal break up and leaving the stifling proficiency and virtuosity focused academic music world behind. She had begun to write some of the songs that would eventually appear here beforehand but it was only after removing herself from stifling normality and the expectations of others and isolating herself for a period in deep introspection that these eleven songs began to form, free and unbridled. Intentionally spartan in terms instrumentation and arrangement, only Masigat’s delicately administered acoustic guitar, Tucker Jackson’s deep and affecting pedal steel and the selective use of cello on the bookends ‘One Day] and ‘Words Left To Say were employed to accompany her unique and understated vocal style.
While she consciously wanted to get away from the narrow music virtuosity she felt trapped by for so long, she also wanted the music to reflect her alternately angst ridden and meditative state of mind. What ended up being produced is an incredibly even and honest record where just the songs and the frugalness of their transmission are the focus. It’s also a record that reflects the fragility that comes with the uncertainty Masigat forced upon herself while navigating the dark corners of her suffering. And that shouldn’t be confused with narrow notions of the word either. It’s from the most fragile of states and places that real and lasting strength often comes. And despite or because of its emotional rawness, altruistic melancholy and detached yet intimate musical style what emerges more than anything else from this record is great strength. Masigat might never fully resolve her inner turmoil and she certainly can’t do anything about the greater cultural malaise that surrounds us all, but you get the sense from the experiences associated with writing this album she’ll be better equipped to deal in future with whatever comes her way.
James Stocker – April 10, 2017
Self Titled (Full Album Stream)
Faustina Masigat (USA)
Mama Bird Recording Co.
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