Review Summary: Meredith Godreau is a force to reckon with, (albeit a quiet one).
Meredith Godreau has been around for a while. A few years ago, she made a MySpace page under the odd alias Gregory and the Hawk. She then released what would soon become one of the biggest sleeper hits in all of unsigned-musician history: “Boats and Birds.” So many people heard this song and added to it on to their iPods, showing it to more and more people. Eventually, Godreau had built an empire of sorts. Reigning solely on the internet, sans label, she kept churning out sweet-voice acoustic songs, one after another, quickly gaining fans and immense recognition. Online music sites threw accolades and praise her way, praising her voice her small but tender voice, and her effective, self-taught guitar styling. It seemed she was on her way to stardom.
Well, after just being signed and releasing only one small album, Godreau has a long way to go before real stardom hits her. But, before her label debut, she released a collection of those sweet-voice acoustic songs entitled In Your Dreams
. After releasing two tiny EPs (including the now ubiquitous Boats and Birds EP
), Godreau decided it was time for a full-length. Some probably wondered if she could handle it. Even on her EPs, the collections seemed to go on a bit too long. All sounding a bit the same, her songs appeared to make only a flimsy full-length. However, Godreau has proven it to be quite the contrary: In Your Dreams
is an amazingly lovely debut full-length set of songs, all recorded in the small confined NYC apartment she inhabits.
The album starts quaintly enough, with the wry and satirical “Kill the Turkey.” The very first thing you hear is Godreau’s delicate, airy, high voice prettily chanting violent intonations like “Kill the cow / Slit his throat / Let him bleed / Make steaks, make burgers, good to eat!” It’s obviously a song about how badly animals are treated in our world, especially in slaughter-houses. Whether she’s a vegetarian or not I am unsure, but she makes a convincing case. The unsettling chorus of “Keep your eyes on the prize” just hits the spine in such a tingle-worthy way, you can’t help but listen in.
However, after that song of slightly humorous but overtly obvious messages, she takes off. And boy does she know how to take off. In Your Dreams
is filled with her self-taught guitar playing, which is almost entirely consisting of finger-picking technique. “Sets” opens with a particularly pretty progression, that sits against the wonderful vocal melody perfectly. Elsewhere, things can get a bit more chaotic, such as on “Bad Habit,” which is a great rollicking alt-country rock song, reduced to mere acoustics. She also can plod gently and quickly, such as on album highlight “The People Who Raised Me,” which also consist of some of her best wordplay. She even adds a flute to “Oats We Sow,” which is undoubtedly the best and most fully fleshed out song here. The melody in the chorus is just insane, and I wish more people could have the opportunity to hear it. Her heart is pouring out with her voice, and awe strikes heavily.
The real beauties of the record are the more pensive and thoughtful ones, though. “Neither Freer,” which should have been the next big indie hit sensation, is a tender and honest expression of the realization that sometimes love can’t always last, but giving up and leaving your partner may not leave either of you feeling satisfied. It’s a chilling reminder, but it is given in such poetic and deft detail, that you just nod and smile, as you listen to the beautiful outro. On the flipside, closer “Wild West” has some slightly modified/reverbed guitar progressions, with a lovely overlapping vocal throughout.
The way Godreau layers her voice over itself to create homespun harmonies with herself is bewildering. This skill is portrayed especially on tracks such as on the country-tinged “Memory and Honesty,” the breathtaking violin-splashed “Blame-Qui,” and the aforementioned “Wild West.” These little details, like her self-harmonizing, just remind us of how small her scale is. Listening, it feels as though maybe you shouldn’t be, as if you’re intruding. These songs are so personal, and it sounds like you’re sitting behind her as she plays these songs. I am glad she has chosen to record this album though. Its biggest problem is that after 13 songs, it does tend to blend together a bit, with even the varying guitar progressions becoming less noticeable. But there really aren’t any weak tracks here, and Meredith Godreau is definitely a force to reckon with (albeit a quite one), and I cannot wait to see where her career takes her.
Download: "Oats We Sow" & "Neither Freer"