Jean-Paul De Roover's Windows and Doors marked by intensity

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      Jean-Paul De Roover
      Windows and Doors (Independent)

      Proving you don’t need a major label deal to produce a slick album package loaded with extra content, the unexpectedly intense Windows and Doors, from Ontarian Jean-Paul De Roover, comes complete with a DVD of live performances and the quirky CD packaging can be folded into a house.

      Thankfully, his innovation doesn’t end with the album’s presentation. A self-proclaimed “one-man band” who builds his songs from the ground up with live looping and prerecorded material, pulls out all the stops (and some excellent additional musicians) on Windows and Doors, including hauntingly beautiful harmonies and a sassy brass trio.

      This 14-song album opens with “I Need You”, a melancholic song featuring strangled synth loops and Morse-code percussion, before launching into “Fix”, a jangly acoustic number with frantic fingerpicking and strong vocals. And the delicate vocalization on “Walk” can’t help but conjure up thoughts of the reigning kings of Canadian folk-rock, the Weakerthans.

      Most of the songs on Windows and Doors are underscored by more than a hint of melancholy, including “The Knife”, a spare offering anchored by a sexy acoustic guitar line and hand drums. However, De Roover manages to sneak in some humour, including a cheeky piece of vocal modulation at the end of the dirgelike “Dead”. “Windows and Doors” defies the album’s overarching sense of sadness, and is instead a remarkably joyful song. Beginning with panic-stricken fingerpicking, the song builds with a number of dense layers—aided by the aforementioned brass trio—before morphing into a triumphant, vocal-jazz-style chorus.

      Intensity is the cornerstone of Windows and Doors, and “Corners” is as close to hesitant as this album gets. This four-chord song features longing vocals, and with instrumentation right out of the Matthew Good playbook, it sounds a lot more epic than it would in less experienced hands. And really, that’s the brilliance of this album: De Roover’s ability to take rather simple chord progressions—often only two or three chords—and create deep layers of interest. This isn’t an album of dreamy, purposeless folk rock; it’s an album on a mission.

      Download This: “Windows and Doors”