Try ;), Edmonton act Faith Healer’s sophomore album, begins in medias res, with the drone of a dial tone, before the drums pick up and “& Waiting” begins. The song feels playful, with sparse instrumentation that weaves, creating a kind of jolt-then-pause effect. Front Person Jessica Jalbert sets the scene, the moment before a hookup. The conclusion is building, and yet, Jalbert is content to stay in the waiting. She cautions, “if it comes, then it’s gone, and there’s only just a memory, but nothing is as good as the feeling of waiting.”
Fittingly, many of the songs on the album feel almost transitory, as if they are Jalbert’s sustained moment in this waiting place, where she can muse, and where things won’t end. Still, the last song of the album, “Best Saved For Last,” alludes to the inevitability of conclusions. Faith Healer’s album has to end, but that doesn’t mean they can’t promise you a moment well worth waiting for.
These tracks, which are for the most part a soothing murmur and occasionally a jaunt through an atmosphere of undulating static, don’t feel like they’re meant to take up much space in the listener’s world. Rather, each song weaves its way into the listener’s brain, to stand beside them during the more quotidian moments, to fit in seamlessly like an old sweater they didn’t know they’d had.
For example, in “Sterling Silver,” the pared-down synths feel, in contrast to the more sanguine instrumentals of the other songs, like a clearly marked intermission. It rings like a call to when Faith Healer wasn’t a band at all and instead a title Jessica Jalbert gave her own project to ensure it wasn’t perceived as merely a singer/songwriter endeavour. Backed by herself, the lyrics sound more like an inner monologue, Mrs. Dalloway style, not primed for sharing but rather direct stream of consciousness. Although the project is now greater than her, she seems to be saying, it is still very intimately her own.
On the title track, “Try ;)” Jalbert wonders: “Is it the strength of my emotion, is it the weakness of my soul, that keeps me laughing at the answer? I wanna cry about it though. I wanna cry about it, I don’t think I could try/to fight it.” This resignation is so central, but for every time Jalbert professes she can’t anymore, her own song lets her know that she in fact should. When Jalbert doesn’t think she could try, she makes it clear, the only thing to do is to “Try ;)” anyway.
Published in Volume 72, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 21, 2017)