Christine Fellows

The Last One Standing

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Originally released in 2001 but reissued after its well-reviewed 2005 follow-up, Paper Anniversary, widened Christine Fellows' audience considerably, The Last One Standing is considerably more spare than Fellows' later records. Unlike the dense, electronica-influenced Paper Anniversary and the Van Dyke Parks-like orchestrations of 2007's Nevertheless, The Last One Standing is a relatively simple indie singer/songwriter album built on Fellows' assertive vocals and inventive piano. Even "Veda's Waltz" and "A Day in the Road," which feature a string quartet in counterpoint to Fellows' graceful piano melodies, and the brief "2 for 1, Pt. 2," on which Fellows sings over only exotic percussion and a kalimba, have a lovely, unfussy delicacy to them. All this makes the in-your-face backbeat of the more urgent "Surgery" the closest thing to a rocker on this musically languid album, kind of a shock when it appears a little over two-thirds in. While The Last One Standing may be a bit less musically complex than its comparatively ornate follow-ups, Fellows' clear, elegant voice and plain-spoken lyrics thrive in this environment, with songs like "Regrets" and "Lost Overtures" detailing emotionally shaded situations with mature, clear-eyed grace. A later, better-known album, Knives Don't Have Your Back by Emily Haines (of Metric and the Canadian supergroup collective Broken Social Scene), attracted wide critical acclaim and hipster cred for an extremely similar sound to The Last One Standing; fans of that fine album would find Fellows' work entirely in their wheelhouse.

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