In the fall of 2021, Leslie Feist made her first post-lockdown steps back to the stage with a roving concert series held in select cities around the world. These special in-the-round events—dubbed Multitudes—showcased all-new material written over the pandemic, a transformative period that saw the Canadian art-pop auteur settle into new motherhood while also grieving the recent passing of her father, the artist Harold Feist. The shows began with Feist performing solo on acoustic guitar—but this was no simple unplugged exercise. Hosted in unconventional spaces, Multitudes combined whispered intimacy with mind-blowing expanse: As the sets unfolded, Feist gradually introduced guest musicians to help push her hushed hymns toward skyscraping climaxes, while the blank venue walls became massive screens for abstract visuals and live images captured by covert camera crews roaming through the crowd. Feist’s sixth album, which bears the same name as those events, is by no means a recreation of those songs. “They were very different endeavors,” Feist tells Apple Music. “Over the course of 90 shows, the songs transformed, and the collection expanded and contracted because the show had songs that didn’t end up on the record, and there were songs that showed up later. And then, once we were in the studio, there were endless possibilities.” But as a record, Multitudes retains the concerts’ subversive spirit and element of surprise. Approached from one angle, the album contains some of the purest and prettiest songwriting of Feist’s career, composed on an old nylon-string guitar that became her pandemic plaything of choice. (“Maybe it was because of the sleeping baby over there, but I craved the softness of the nylon string,” she says. “I did not want to plug into an amp.”) But viewed from another angle, the album is Feist’s most daring and mischievous work to date, its pastoral lullabies routinely disrupted by surrealist string arrangements, digitally stacked self-harmonizing, and cathartic screams. Here, she reveals the inspiration behind some of Multitudes’ highlights. “In Lightning” “I’ve been trying to put more intention in my lensing of my interior weather. In the past, I’ve been pretty invested in the dark that is intermittently blasted by a flash of light, which would maybe be a eureka moment, or a moment of clarity. And I’ve just been working dedicatedly on collating and collecting those little flashes of clarity. Maybe, eventually, they’ll add up to knowing something.” “Forever Before” “There’s a certain spiritual and emotional gestation that happens years before you become a parent or decide to, and I’d say this song is a bird’s-eye view of the years that preceded arriving at the point that I did.” “Love Who We Are Meant To” “I’ve really been interested in the craft of writing the standard, where you’re draining autobiography and putting so much personal pathos into the song without it needing to be like a journal entry. So, this is an attempt to take what is ultra-personal and fold it into the universal.” “Hiding Out in the Open” “Weirdly, as far away as everyone was during lockdown, we were sharing more than usual, because we were all confronted with our lives as we had built them. And then, there we were inside those echoing four walls of our reality. Suddenly, there was this ultimate intimacy thrust upon us. So, I think I was taking in a similar timbre of story from a lot of the people that I’m closest with. It felt like a lot of people were in some kind of crucible or reckoning, for better or worse. This is where the elastic container of a song isn’t answering to a particular instance or any autobiographical specifics—it can be the collated story of a moment, as I observed it.” “The Redwing” “I think I was looking to locate myself inside a desire to live a different way. I suppose it was born of finding an off-grid summertime life that is now the centrifuge to my adulthood. It’s just where I want to be. I want to be at the cottage where the sun sets, and you light an oil lantern. It’s a place where I’ve learned I can listen to my intuition more closely.” “I Took All of My Rings Off” “I was calling into question any concretized ideas I had of how my life was meant to look. Rings show up everywhere: they’re decorative, they’re circles of family, they’re the cups that spilleth over, they’re the commitment, they’re the holding of hands in prayer. All the ways that I’ve been formed somehow come back to the circle. And, in a way, my relationships have been the constellation that my North Star is within. So, all of that should be on the table. This whole album is an attempt to be willing to be wrong—willing to learn I was wrong all along, or that I may be.” “Borrow Trouble” “This is kind of a declaration of my intent to get unstuck. I mean, ‘borrow trouble’ is that tendency to stir the pot. For years, I noticed I was very good at making a bad situation worse. So, the scream at the end is a naturally occurring moment of relief—I am cultivating a different tendency.” “Song for Sad Friends” “As I was saying, there was something that happened during the pandemic where, in a way, a lot of communication with your friends reignited in an old-fashioned pen-pal kind of way. It was the time of writing letters again, somehow. So, I wrote that letter. This song was just a letter that I sent to a few friends on the same Tuesday. Knowing each of the sadnesses that were specific to their story, I found what was the common story underneath the difficulties and wrote them a letter in the form of a song.”

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