Written Friday, July 12
Haley Blais was probably my most listened to Vancouver artist of 2018. Following this album’s release, it promptly went on repeat on my phone and in my car for a few weeks and, even though I’ve heard it a million times now, it’s still in the regular rotation for me. She might be one of my favorite artists in the Vancouver scene right now. Every song on this album is a gem. It’s honest, heartfelt, raw songwriting that is relatable and earnest. More so than any other artist I can think of in recent years.
The production is polished. There are nice little details in each track that one only notices after many repeat listens. The performances are all spot on, and the vocal performance is stellar. There is something about her voice that is unique yet familiar, docile yet powerful.
One of my favourite things about this album is each song’s ability to expand on simple ideas. Remove Tag and Small Foreign Faction are two great examples. At their core, they’re very simple songs, crafted around simple chord progressions that repeat almost ad nauseum. But the changes of the rhythm section and the layering of instruments elevate these simple ideas to the next level, to the point where you might not even notice it’s just the same chords repeating throughout the entire song. The vocal melodies help with this too. I’ve always been a big fan of simplicity in songwriting, so I love the idea of taking something very basic and making it feel like it’s bigger than it is.
I wouldn’t say there are any low points in this album; the whole thing is great front to back. But if I had to pick a high point I’d say the opening track Best Thing or the fan-favorite Small Foreign Faction. The other songs are fantastic as well but there’s something special about those two.
Haley Blais has a huge online following from her YouTube channel, having posted countless videos over the last half-decade, racking up millions of views. Her YouTube personality is silly but sincere, and that’s probably why people have gravitated toward her. And that’s part of what makes her music surprising. It shares the apparent wit of her on-camera presence, but is often somber and even a bit morose. She’s got a lot to give as an artist. The creative evolution from Late Bloomer to Let Yourself Go feels massive. Hopefully, she stays on this trajectory and continues to put her focus on music.
You can listen to Let Yourself Go at the following links: