‘No guitars, just plastic’, that was the motto for making 22h22, Ariane Moffatt‘s fifth album. The Canadian songstress even taped an ‘X’ on one of the guitars hanging on the studio wall. No strings, just buttons and keys then. And a contribution by ‘Henri and Marcel Marcil-Moffatt’, the twin boys Ariane had in 2013 and who became subject of this record. The title is a reference to the moment when, kids in bed, all work done, inspiration hits. From THIS interview: “Everything would come back to me at 10:22,” she recalled. “My life was so practical at that point, but at that time, I felt like it was the only opportunity I had to fly, to see what’s on the other side. It was reassuring to feel that again, because I was in provider mode and survival mode and taking care of babies and not thinking about anything else.”
‘The other side’, as Moffatt calls it, is a dream-like state, where plushy 70s-synths (Jean-Michel Jarre sometimes springs to mind) take over and the mood is reflective and introspective. Take ‘Retourner en moi’ for istance. On the other hand, there are more upbeat tracks like single ‘Debout’ and what to me is the highlight of this album, ‘Les tireurs fou’ – the latter is a song about trying to shield your kids from all the dangers and annoyances in this world. Brazilian percussion turns up in ‘De mort à vivant’ (a song about reincarnation), the twins lend their voices for ‘Matelos & frères’.
When Ariane leans less on the trickery (a choir of her fans in ‘Toute sa vie’, the baby voices, the bended voice in ‘Nostalgie des jours qui tombent’) and relies more on her songwriting, 22h22 lights up. ‘Retourner en moi’ is a great song, as is ‘Les tireurs fous’. B
eing a mom and an artist, it’s a struggle. That’s what 22h22 proves. It’s nice to drift off to ‘the other side’ every now and then. But it takes a lot more than some ‘hour of inspiration’ to get to a really great album.