Laura Niquay
Waska Matisiwin
Musique nomade
Trois Rivières, Québec
RIYL: Lisa Leblanc; Jeremie Albino; Julian Taylor

There’s a steady energetic hum woven through the grungy folk-rock of Laura Niquay’s Waska Matisiwin. It reminds me of the din of the beginning of the summer in the city orchestrated by ramshackled air conditioners and cicadas: it’s exciting and charged with possibilities. 

Instead of a booming greeting, we wade into the powers of Waska Matisiwin with layers of Niquay’s vibrant and gravelly voice rumbling beneath our feet. Eventually, the rumbling gives way to the thunderous stomps of “Moteskano (Les sentiers de nos ancêtres).” On tracks like the tightly delivered “Kinoce Ickwecic (Petite fille Kinoce),” the stormy “Icpimik (Le sommet, vers le haut),” and the reggae-influenced “Nicim (Mon petit frère)” featuring Shauit, the moods differ but the hum remains. 

Across Waska Matisiwin, Niquay—who sings in Atikamekw—meditates on family, love, loss, and nature. There is grief present on the record, but there’s also hope and so much strength. On “Aski (Terre),” Niquay is revitalized by the four elements, and the relief that she feels, like all of the emotions she expresses on the album, transcends language. As does the vitality of Waska Matisiwin.

– Laura Stanley