Though rare, there are some artists who surprise us time and again by constantly revealing new facets of their immense talent. Florence K is one of these artists. Since the launch of Live At Lion D’Or in 2005, the renowned Montreal musician continues to surprise, amaze and fascinate. With her two beautiful albums, Bossa Blue released in 2006 and La Historia De Lola in 2008, both of which have won Félix Awards for World Music Album of the Year, or with Havana Angels, her gorgeous Christmas opus that was a huge smash just after its release in 2010, Florence’s has delivered something fresh and original. In autumn she returns with I’m Leaving You, a refreshing new album, delivered with the same sincerity her fans have come to expect. Indeed, she reinvents herself without ever forgetting those who follow and admire her. Fans who have come to know Florence K will be excited to rediscover her this fall.
A well-travelled Florence depicts “all the colours of love” on her new record by telling us stories inspired by her own experiences. With I’m Leaving You she offers up a collection of the most personal songs ever: “With Bossa Blue and La Historia I was more comfortable telling stories that were not necessarily my own. I was younger then and didn’t really want to open myself up that way. With I’m Leaving You I wanted to talk about myself in a really honest way. To put myself out there, completely.” On this album, created mostly in Los Angeles in collaboration with Larry Klein, master producer who has worked with Joni Mitchell and Melody Gardot, Florence K takes an elegant and organic musical twist. Her many trips to California allowed her to open herself up to new possibilities, to see her music from a different angle and to decide exactly what she wanted to say. Moments of inspiration came incessantly and inexhaustibly. “We did all of the creative work, the writing, in Larry’s little studio in Santa Monica. I played the Wurlitzer, Larry the bass and songwriters David Bateau and David Baerwald took turns playing the guitar. In the end, we had 25 songs that could easily have made their way on to the album,” she recalls. “We listened, analyzed and mulled over ideas and sounds. In the end, we chose to record 10 songs.”
With these 10 songs, this remarkable artist, who has been surrounded by music from a very young age, draws on her personal experience to portray specific situations but also to illustrate ideas that will touch most listeners. She takes us on a journey through different phases of love but without avoiding its sometimes painful and devastating consequences. Her harrowing moments there for all to hear: at one point, she has lost her way, nothing will ever be the same and nothing will ever get better. This is particularly poignant in the song “Milagros” meaning “miracle.” Florence’s miracle occurs after days and days of darkness, when she finally sees the light. “There comes a time when you take a step back and don’t take everything so seriously,” observes Florence. “Even though we’re taking about pain, there are little touches of humour in these songs that also express passion, hope, anticipation… Take ‘You’re Breaking My Heart’ as an example, it’s a very rhythmic, even bouncy piece in which my heart’s desire is compared to a drug, ‘mi droga!’ Or even ‘I Like You As A Friend,’ a song with all of these weak excuses I find to shoot someone down gently, claiming ‘you’re really nice, BUT…’” This catchy and sing-able little gem is peppered with rocking backing vocals you might find on a Rolling Stones track. I’m Leaving You allowed Florence another creative first: she allowed lyrics writing to take the lead. Up till now, Florence K has claimed to be “more music than lyrics” but in the lead up to recording this record, she attended several writing sessions in L.A. that allowed her to refine her lyrics. “Nothing was left up to chance,” she says, “Every single word was reflected upon, carefully weighed and debated.” Florence added yet another new facet to the making of this album. By her own admission, in the past she “continually returned to her comfortable seat behind the grand piano,” but here she finally allowed her rich and nuanced voice a well-deserved place in the forefront. Yes the piano is less present on this record. Florence is more often perched at the Wurly, letting the other instruments take the lead. “These days I tell myself, do what’s right for the song and not whatever’s going to put the piano out in front.” Her desire to explore new sounds shines in the 10 songs she presents where Rock meets Blues, horns play alongside guitars and her Latin influences are subtly integrated. The artist surprises us once again, and she surely hasn’t finished doing so. “Maybe my next album will be… Piano-Voice!” she exclaims.
Wherever Florence K goes, we will surely always follow.