“Never been to Paris / Or walked the coast of Spain / Never skied down a mountain / Or leapt from a plane / No regrets for the things that I’ve never done / No regrets… ‘cept maybe one”
With these homespun verses, Whitebeard paints us a picture of reflective yearning in his new single “Paris,” from the album Plaid Is the New Black, and although it’s not the only song of a contemplative nature that critics have been discussing this month, it’s one of the few tracks of its genre to bear its singer’s heartfelt emotion as much as it does his burgeoning skillset.
There are plenty of layers for us to dissect in this mix, but “Paris” isn’t overwhelmingly complicated in the least; actually, quite the contrary. There are even a few places (such as the transition into the first chorus) where the song could have benefited from more panache on the part of the band, and you could even say that this is one of the more minimalist tunes that Plaid Is the New Black contains. It isn’t lacking in substance, but the framing of the central melody is the antithesis of indulgence, at least from where I sit.
Even the oversimplified elements that we encounter in “Paris” aren’t enough to impede the likability of these lyrics, and moreover the harmonies that shadow them in the strings. The drums are mild and more robotic than they are free-spirited, but their formulaic structure doesn’t have what it takes to make the rhythm of the song feel jaded or slothful. It would be nice to hear some of Whitebeard’s American counterparts follow his lead and adopt a more relaxed style of attack in regards to balladry, but that might be the biggest reason why his music stands out as much as it does in his scene and abroad.
Whitebeard is getting better at this game we call popular music, and his new single “Paris” is some of his strongest material released to the public so far. There’s lots of ground left for him to cover, but I think that it doesn’t take much more than a cursory listen of this track to appreciate just how much he’s evolved in the last year alone. Time will tell for sure, but as we inch closer to the 2020’s, I’m getting the feeling the Canadian soft rock is going to be defined more by underground artists like this one than it will by anyone currently dominating the FM airwaves.