Aroah – No Podemos Ser Amigos

No Podemos Ser Amigos

After the first few chords of the first song on No Podemos Ser Amigos, I braced myself in preparation for what I felt would be an inevitable “cringe.” There have been few solo female singer-guitarists that I’ve been able to listen to without feeling crushed under the weight of emotional minutiae, especially after enduring the slew of mediocre female folkies forced upon us during the mid-90s.

It was with great relief that I realized Aroah (the recording name for Irena Tremblay) doesn’t fit into that unfortunate category. Instead, her music is original, honest, and beautiful. Tremblay is Spanish-American, and while most of 14 tracks on the disc are sung in English, three of them are in Spanish. Most tracks are straight-ahead acoustic numbers, such as “Flavour of the Month,” which features wonderful laid-back strumming and spooky slide guitar. Some of the songs, however, border on Mazzy Star-style psychedelia, and this adds some nice variety to the album. Tremblay’s singing voice is crisp, clean, and warm, and she’s never too whiny (see Alanis Morissette) or too cutesy (Juliana Hatfield). Her supporting band stays quietly in the background, carefully filling in the songs with drums, keyboards, and bass as needed.

Tremblay’s lyrics are personal and never trite. Songs like “Her IQ #2” and “X-Song” are like brief snapshots or fascinating glimpses into her life, with the gory details never fully explained. Her lyrics are as wonderful on paper as they are on record: “drinking whiskey for no reason, because I heard in a song, that’s what you do when things go wrong,” she sings on “Whiskey.”

Aroah makes pretty music. It is at times sad, depressing, happy, and hopeful – and occasionally it is all of those at once. Aroah shows legitimate emotion. This disc has the rare power to change my mood, and to me that says everything.