At some level, every song is a message, a plea, from the artist to the audience… but in his heart the artist is hoping you will agree, and join him in trying to communicate with those who don’t. Nick Perreault is no different. Singing songs inspired by the people, places, and events of his own life, he is still able to write in a way where the specifics don’t matter, the spirit does, and hopefully anyone who hears will feel invited to join in.
With a musical heritage rooted in the church hymns of Newfoundland and Top 40 Radio in the car ride to school, he progressed through garage and college rock bands, until eventually Perreault decided that he would start making music on his own. As he played with the practice of songwriting, the lyrical themes and ideas to settle into place: moving and standing still, unity and duality, faith and doubt, love and fear, confusion and excitement, desire and… desire. The result was The Good Intentions – that rare premiere which more closely resembles the work of a much more seasoned songwriter than a rookie.
In some ways, The Good Intentions is a document of Perreault’s exploration into the nature of his own duality. In “The Sky Tonight” Perreault sings of being “A cynic on the left/ A zealot on the right/ Between these two positions/ I evaluate the parts/ And wait for the sun/ To wedge the two apart.” He sees similar contradictions in the Prophet/Prostitute conundrum in “Take Thine Stake”. But Perreault also recognizes the difficulty in reducing the complexity of human drama into pop songs, so he wisely chooses to keep things oblique. The resulting effect is less like reading a diary and more like listening to a poem; everyone can relate to the themes that Perreault presents. Everyone can glean some private meaning, while recognizing the larger themes as well.
This confluence of the personal and the populist is not limited to the lyric sheet, however. Perreault’s music belies a wide range of influences, perhaps best identified by his choice of the three cover songs. Belinda Carlisle’s shallow ‘80s pop smash “I Get Weak” is here turned into a plaintive paean with spiritual undertones. This is followed by “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” – a hymn of longing and resignation. Later is the Smiths’ classic “Bigmouth Strikes Again”. In all cases, Perreault’s arrangements mix with his vocals to transform the source material into an exceptionally expressive affectation.
The musical diversity doesn’t end there. The album opener, “Choir by Night,” is a meandering instrumental that leads directly into the pop stomp of “Injured Ignored”. Elsewhere, Perreault crafts a down-tempo intro interlude (“Em Worship Dirge”) which precedes the Manchester haze of “Daniel/le”. There’s piano ballads (“Fire by Night”), Tin Pan bounce (“Alberta Blues”), acoustic story-telling (“Marigold”), classic rock swagger (“Miles”), and a peaceful closer (“The Sky Tonight”) to cap it all off. The end result is a well-balanced, well-made, sincere record, and one that certainly merits attention.