Published Nov 20, 2007One of Canadas most interesting and innovative pop writers, Christine Fellows has composed a wonderfully vivid album with Nevertheless. The Winnipeg natives series of songs are thematically connected to spinsters, inspired by artist Joseph Cornell and poet Marianne Moore, both New Yorkers who died in 1972 after long, solitary lives. An odd recluse, Cornell resided with his mother and occasionally corresponded with Moore, an award-winning writer, gregarious socialite and loner at heart. A dispatch from Moore to Cornell intrigued Fellows to such an extent that these spectres appear in her tales of solitude, which are theatrical in every sense of the word. From the skittish rhythm, playful ukulele and dry vocals of "Not Wanted on the Voyage, Fellows pursues an ancient form of alienation drolly. Theres a distinctive lightness to "The Spinsters Almanac and the title track, in spite of their (charmingly) sad narratives. The songs are endearing thanks to the inherent sympathy in Fellows perspective. She cares deeply for her characters from "Cruel Jim to "The Goddess of Macramé and she doesnt idly give them agency. With musical pomp mixed with earthy emotion, Nevertheless is a literate musical force.
Whats special about Marianne Moore?
As a woman in the 40s, she was taken seriously for her work and was a very social person. She loved baseball and Muhammad Ali, and was just a real vibrant character. So I got really involved with her work and had this posthumous conversation with her.
Your husband John [K. Samson of the Weakerthans] wrote an album covering male interaction in sports. Youre discussing feminine isolation via a poet who loved sports. Why the interest in jocks?
Its interesting because John also based some of his writing on Edward Hopper paintings, so we both drew upon these artists in the New York area coincidentally. What I do love is that [Moores] relationship with baseball is a lot like mine; it was about how the pitcher talks to the catcher, how theyd be intimate with each other.
What inspired these animated arrangements?
This record was a reflection of a year that involved a lot of touring and playing with different people. I like those opportunities because my writing period is very insular and anti-social, and playing music is very social. I wanted this to be more like a performance, thinking of the characters on stage, almost like musical theatre. (Six Shooter)