Ontario`s Gauthier is a wonderful soft-rock songwriter, without the occasional negative connotations of that term. Back in the 70`s, you had bands such as Bread, or people such as Jimmy Webb and Art Garfunkel that made pop music with tremendous melodies, interesting words, but way too commercial and easy-breezy for the Zeppelin crowd, or the BTO crowd either. So you soft-rockers got a pretty bad rep, and its never really got out from that.
But I can`t think of another way to describe what Gauthier does, and does so well. It`s certainly not the old-style approach though. His songs are layered with loops, a bed of ambiance and modern sounds, over which we get his beautiful words and voice. Seriously, this guy has Glenn Frey beat for sheer emotion. It would be folly to surround his pipes with anything but the loveliest harmonies, and prettiest keyboards. There`s a calm country lope to Everything Is Gonna Be, with a little weeping guitar. Hold My Hand is a stunning piano ballad, with this scratchy electric guitar hidden way, way down in the mix, and some doo-wop singers helping out. Then there’s the surprise of the set, the only cover, a radical reinterpretation of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, with spoken word samples, playful beats and tons of sound effects throughout the loops.
The thoughtful lyrics of the album could only be placed in such a reflective setting, where we can ponder the life questions Gauthier lays out before us. He`s looking at himself closely, examining the way he`s acting, how he`s fooled himself, what can work in the future. And of course, in doing so, he`s helping us examine in the same way. As he sings in I See You, the album`s centerpiece, “The only way that I see the light is through the cracks I once tried to hide/ If hoping is as love strives to do, I see you, ya I see you.” It may be the quietest album you hear this year, but certainly it will be one with the most going on, too.“ Bob Mersereau