Pascale Picard

A Letter to No One

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Four years after her multi-platinum debut album, Me, Myself & Us, took her native Quebec by storm, landing her a support slot on Paul McCartney's world tour and selling 300,000 copies in the process, singer/songwriter Pascale Picard and her self-titled backing band return with their second effort, A Letter to No One. Produced by Jean-François Lemieux (Daniel Bélanger, Robert Charlebois), its 14 songs show glimpses of her previous organic folk sound, as on the gently plucked acoustic ballads "If I Let You" and "The Right Rhyme (Cat's Got My Tongue)" and the melancholic duet with Franco-Ontarian Damien Robitaille, "Nobody's Here to Break Your Heart." But elsewhere, Picard displays a newfound sense of invention, combining spiky angular riffs with strident military rhythms on the driving "The Gap"; adding a crunching dirty bassline to "Raw," a track that recalls the dictionary swallowing angst-rock of Alanis Morissette's sophomore album; and fusing spacious electronica and gentle Americana on the gorgeous "Five Minutes," which later ends in a flurry of lolloping beats and distorted guitars. Equally enchanting are the convincing forays into Nashville territory, which at times echo the steel pedal-laden alt-country of Minnie Driver's moonlighting efforts ("And If I Miss My Shot"), the Celtic-tinged shuffles of Amy Macdonald ("Feeling Better"), and the thumping hoedowns of KT Tunstall ("Shooting Star"), while the string-soaked Suzanne Vega-esque opener "Our Christmas Song" and reverb-laden dream pop of "Hell Is Other People" reveal her more expansive-sounding capabilities. A Letter to No One still offers the intimacy and emotion of its predecessor, but it's a more layered and textured record that cleverly feels like a natural progression rather than a concerted effort to change a winning formula.

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