This April, Canadian crooner Whitebeard is taking listeners on a journey into what he’s calling Nashipeg; a bold fusion of north and south that is best embodied in the new single from his latest album Plaid Is the New Black, “Paris.” “Paris” has the look and feel of a country song with the cosmopolitan construction of a standard pop single, and though the combination of contrasting flavors is a lot to take in at once, it’s without a doubt one of the more fascinating sonic cocktails I’ve heard from a Canadian artist in the last few months.
The hook in the chorus is very modest, but it doesn’t fail in warming up the chilly percussive strut that haunts the bassline in the background of the track. I don’t want to hear a lot of recycled beats in contemporary country music, and thankfully, Whitebeard doesn’t waste my time with anything even close to that dribble in “Paris.” The groove is original, supple and matches up well with the anti-liberal approach taken to the strings. It’s not the excess that we’ve become accustomed to in so many of alternative country’s big name releases this year, but then again, I don’t think that it’s trying to fit in with that crowd or any other established “scene,” honestly.
I do wish the guitars would have been just a little bit louder in the master mix, because there’s a lot of underscored color in their licks that I found to be more exciting an element than anything that the drums or the keys have to share with us here. The arrangement is very meticulously structured, which makes it all the more frustrating to find it buried in a lot of exoticisms and needless frills that don’t do much for the narrative in the lyrics or the prowess of the guitar’s forsaken pummel.
The verses get somewhat predictable the deeper we get into the song, but they’re a step up from the weaker material on Plaid Is the New Black, in which I felt like Whitebeard was trying way too hard to appeal to a younger generation of folkies and eccentric hipsters. His adherence to individuality in this single is admirable, as is his commitment to making a song in his own unique way, but there’s something to be said about satisfying the majority as it relates to upping your album sales, and that seems to be something of a concern for Whitebeard in the album that gave us “Paris.”
He’s still got a long way to go before you can anticipate seeing him on the cover of any mainstream music publications, but there’s no question that Whitebeard is taking the steps that he’ll need to take to get there in “Paris.” He’s expanding on his now-signature formula, incorporating strange new influences that will eventually forge an even more interesting persona in later works, and touching on sonic territory that a lot of his closest rivals would normally shy away from. This isn’t Whitebeard’s watershed moment, but this single has given me a gut feeling that says we’re not all that far away from seeing that very moment in the near future.