Subtle is not an adjective traditionally applied to the Bee Gees. Mention the Brothers Gibb, and folks immediately remember the relentless disco-mania following Saturday Night Fever and those high-octane falsetto harmonies. But take a moment and revisit "How Deep Is Your Love" or "Too Much Heaven," and the delicate grace of the songwriting, arranging, and vocal performances in which the Australian siblings specialized shines through.
These same qualities are evident on the nuanced rendition of their 1979 number one pop hit, "Love You Inside Out," featured on Let It Die by Feist. In fact, they recur throughout the sophomore album from this Canadian singer-songwriter. Not straight-up homage, à la Scissor Sisters, but the similarities exist; relishing the intertwined vocals on "One Evening," one can easily imagine Robin, Barry, and Maurice adding this original to their own repertoire.
Leslie Feist boasts a resume that could dizzy a dervish. She shared an apartment with Peaches, has recorded and performed with Chilly Gonzales (who coproduced this album), Broken Social Scene, and Kings of Convenience, and played her first proper set opening for the Ramones. With credits like that, one might anticipate a stylistic train wreck. Instead, Let It Die distills these influences into 11 precise musical brushstrokes: The syncopated rhythms of "Mushaboom" suggests that jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and assorted bossa nova gems live on Feist's iPod, while "Leisure Suite," with its muted brass and oh-so-subtle come-ons is the antithesis of her former roommate's confrontational raunch.
The album's title track calls down the gospel-soul spirit, complete with organ, yet Feist's voice barely breaks out of a whisper; imagine if Thumbelina cut a record in Muscle Shoals. Her dusky, accented delivery offset by pizzicato strings, Feist croons "Secret Heart" like a lost Tin Pan Alley classic, plucked from a forgotten Doris Day film. (In fact, it's by her countryman Ron Sexsmith.)
If Feist was a season, she would be Indian summer: Warm yet fleeting. Do not pass up the chance to bask in her radiance. Wear white if you wish, but leave those boogie shoes and leisure suits on the racks at Value Village where they belong.