Mathieu Lavigne
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Mathieu Lavigne

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Some albums just end up getting lost in the piles of hubris, never to see the light of day, but every now and again one wings its way to some reviewer who in turn is touched by it. For years now, I have seen Mathieu Lavigne in and around my neighbourhood, but had no clue that he was a musician. So imagine my surprise when his debut album was assigned to me for review. What was even better was that I actually enjoyed it! Little Wars is a strong first effort that at times brings to mind the syrupy qualities of Will Oldham’s folk-country output mixed with the gruff stylings of Dan Mangan, but as a whole it is very much Lavigne. For the most part, this is acoustic guitar, voice and a bit of sparse backup. It’s not a jumper of an album and it might be best suited for those rainy inside days when there is more time to soak in its lyrics and musical textures, of which there is plenty. The standout track on Little Wars is the hugely personal “Sixteen Months.” The French number “Au Milieu D’un Été,” however, comes in at a close second, adding a bit of buoyancy to a fairly low key album. To carve out your own sound while staying true to a genre can’t always be easy when speaking of unsigned street level musicians, but Lavigne has managed quite well for himself. Aside from a wee bit of filler on Little Wars, he is off to a good start. - Discorder


By Rachel Sanders

Like the high note that shatters wineglasses, some folk songs are perfectly pitched to break your heart. Mathieu Lavigne hits that note with "Au Milieu d'un été," the third track on his debut album. With the tender purr of organ and Lavigne's forlorn vocals at the forefront, you don't need to understand French to fathom the depth of his deep blue melancholy. Lavigne excels at finding beauty in misery, and when he wallows a little ? with the sad-sack trombone in "Burning Heart" or the tragic lyrics of "Behind The Prayer," for instance ? the effect is devastating. And even when he's not jerking tears and shredding hearts, the Vancouver, BC singer-songwriter does a beautiful job with melody, adding texture to his arrangements with the contributions of Vancity musicians such as guitarist Clayton Murray, pianists Jacob Aginsky and Sam Parton (the Be Good Tanyas) and vocalist Marissa Johnson (No Kids, Weathered Pines).
(Independent) - Exclaim!


By Ken Eisner, August 25, 2011

Little Wars (Independent)

A Montrealer who arrived here as a teen, Mathieu Lavigne comes on strong, if gently so, on Little Wars, with lyrics that are less about the usual relationship conflicts than they are intimate, uncynical odes to everyday struggles—some of which are not won.

His one foray into French, “Au milieu d’un été”, underscored by Jacob Aginsky’s rolling organ sound, is a highlight. Even more memorable is “Riptide”, which, like many of the tunes, sits casually upon the singer’s solid acoustic strumming—but then its chorus, bolstered by sparkling piano (also from Aginsky), is as swooningly tuneful as anything by Rufus Wainwright.

Most of the hooks here aren’t quite as assertive, but Lavigne’s earnest, unmannered vocals reward close attention in the sparely self-produced set, with words usually taking pride of place over melodic gymnastics. “In her eyes the glass amongst the grass shined/Like peaceful stars of death” is the key image in “Behind the Prayer”, about his mother’s near-fatal car crash. The subjects and the tempos lean toward the morose, although there is quiet uplift in the notion, expressed in “Vague Riverside Song”, of “songs that are alive before they’re written and need just for you to sing”. - The Georgia Straight


Discography

Mathieu Lavigne: "Little Wars"

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Bio

One thing's for certain, singer/songwriter Mathieu Lavigne's method is all about finding a truthful, emotional voice. His music draws from his own life experience, and points to the big questions, about death, love and life in all its' terrible beauty.
In his first studio album, "Little Wars," Lavigne turns the hidden struggles of ordinary life into touching poetry 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 moments that define our lives.
“I wasn’t scared of doing some sad songs,” Lavigne says, “I think that sadness can be beautiful if it can be expressed. . ."
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, and crows are always mining and tearing things apart,” 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.
Mathieu sings mostly in English, although he is a native French speaker raised in Montréal. At 17, he hit the road and spent thirteen rough years ‘on the block’ tree-planting in British Columbia. It is during this time that he began developing his song-writing craft and musicianship. These days, Mathieu can be found in Vancouver, where he lives with his wife and his son. He is currently working on a bilingual songwriting project of producing twelve original songs that each have two version: an English and a French one.
Mathieu plays solo and with his band, including Mike Foster (bass), Mike Frost (drums) and John Rodgers (guitar and keys.)