Some albums just end up getting lost in the piles of hubris, never to see the light of day, but every now and again one wings its way to some reviewer who in turn is touched by it. For years now, I have seen Mathieu Lavigne in and around my neighbourhood, but had no clue that he was a musician. So imagine my surprise when his debut album was assigned to me for review. What was even better was that I actually enjoyed it! Little Wars is a strong first effort that at times brings to mind the syrupy qualities of Will Oldham’s folk-country output mixed with the gruff stylings of Dan Mangan, but as a whole it is very much Lavigne. For the most part, this is acoustic guitar, voice and a bit of sparse backup. It’s not a jumper of an album and it might be best suited for those rainy inside days when there is more time to soak in its lyrics and musical textures, of which there is plenty. The standout track on Little Wars is the hugely personal “Sixteen Months.” The French number “Au Milieu D’un Été,” however, comes in at a close second, adding a bit of buoyancy to a fairly low key album. To carve out your own sound while staying true to a genre can’t always be easy when speaking of unsigned street level musicians, but Lavigne has managed quite well for himself. Aside from a wee bit of filler on Little Wars, he is off to a good start.
Review By Nathan Pike