Mathieu Lavigne’s debut album, Little Wars, is folk singing-song writing at its’ transcendental best; raw, stripped, like walking on a forlorn wind-whipped beach, where poetry and metaphor weave together in a moving gust of powerful soulfulness and incisive lyricism. Such superb craftsmanship is not born overnight. Over the last five years, slowly, patiently, and almost in secrecy, Lavigne has been writing and recording his songs.“For months, I wouldn’t have enough money to book a day in the studio. . . in the end though, the time constraints were a blessing in disguise because they gave me a chance to evaluate and improve my material.” It was well worth the wait. Sweat, string-bruised fingers and a whole lot of thoughtful patience later, you can hear it all packed into his album. Having kept such a low profile, however, it’s doubtful anyone could anticipate the stark beauty it contains.
Lavigne draws deeply from his own life experience, and points to the big questions, about death, love, and life in all its’ terrible beauty. A native French speaker, raised in Montréal as an only child, he hit the road at 17 and spent ten rough years ‘on the block’ tree-planting in British Columbia. Now a window-washer and a dedicated father, Lavigne takes on what it means to struggle through ordinary life, and confronts the buried tragedies that transform the lives of those we know and love. With smoky-smooth vocals and a tender tempo that often rocks like a lullaby, Lavigne has created an intensely personal album that captures the beauty inherent in the saddest moments that define our lives.
“I wasn’t scared of doing some sad songs,” Lavigne says, “I think that sadness can be beautiful. . . I don’t want to shy away from the ugliness of being human or of being imperfect.” The title track, “Little Wars,” is about the daily wars we wage to distract ourselves from more deeply situated pain.“There’s a seed that’s in a field, a minefield in your heart,” Lavigne sings, speaking of our hearts’ potential to both nurture and inflict pain. Whether it is a woman injured in a car accident, finding comfort in the touch of a stranger (Behind the Prayer), the death of an infant amidst family life (Sixteen Months), or the frustrating aimlessness of youth (Au milieu d’un été), Lavigne will soothe you to your peaceful place and then gently slap you into thinking about the underlying currents that move in all of us.