“Small Foreign Faction” by Haley Blais: Song Deconstruction and Thoughts
By Hope Delongchamp
Haley Blais has been an artist that I have been following for some time now. A friend and I had found her YouTube channel one late night over a video about an experience cutting bangs at home. Haley had me at her sense of humour — and then I learned she was Canadian. I’m not the one for being overly patriotic, but there’s some kind of magic in knowing that someone else has gone through the experiences of Nanaimo bars, maple syrup and Justin Trudeau (which will date this article come a few years.) When I learned that she made music as well, I was ecstatic. Her covers of songs, from “Elastic Heart” by Sia to “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads, shows her well-rounded musical interests.
Blais’ voice and overall musical presence are delightful and refreshing. When her Late Bloomer EP came out, I was enthused. Her heartfelt songs sent me into a very introspective state. Haley is not only vocally talented, but lyrically gifted as well. She seems to speak to the innermost part of the soul and teach the listener about qualities that were previously unknown to them. I learned more about the connection of being a late bloomer, of being both an ‘old soul’ and a child-at-heart. It was refreshing to know that I wasn’t alone in the wiring of my brain. There’s power in knowing that someone can think like you, and Blais masterfully does so.
I knew that she would only improve from that EP, so I was delighted when she revealed that April 7th, she is releasing her next EP Let Yourself Go. Her single, “Small Foreign Faction,” loses the simplicity behind her ukulele-backed tracks of the past and gains a full band. The energy the song has is exciting and rejuvenating. The instruments slowly merge together, and alongside one another, tell an insightful story. Her voice, one that I feel the music industry was losing, lulls in with the lyrics, “I’m just a foreign faction, irreconcilable conflict at parties.” Haley seems to recognize that there is a group of those like her, and continues to look into herself while maintaining that bond to the outside world. She talks about how she is not the norm; she is the disagreeing entity in a world of judgemental eyes looking for perfection. Haley continues, “I feel like a chain reaction, but sadly I don’t know how it started.” Blais speaks about how she knows she is a part of this group but is not the source. She is not the first person to feel like an oddity of sorts, but she doesn’t know who was the first person to feel this way. It picks at the human manner. The following lyrics, “I never wanted anything and I never got it,” is heart-wrenching and meaningful. Those lyrics seem to start a chain-reaction as they repeat with Blais’ harmonization on top, and then the band seems to enfold around the listener.
The instrumentals and the melody itself is humanizing. The spiritedness of it all is infectious. With the drums taking charge, Haley proceeds with the lyrics, “I love to sit around fires and catch the embers on my tongue, / Listening to a church choir sing some hymns about someone.” The lines themselves are poetically beautiful. The scene is set and the listener can immediately find themselves around a bonfire, the laughs and murmurs of others surrounding them. It is idealistic and a glimpse at paradise.
The pre-chorus is made clear: “I never wanted anything and I never got it.” The words speak about loss by a lack of reaching out and a lack of purpose, continuously repeating themselves until the opening lines return in full-capacity. The lyrics seem so personal, as if it was an entry in a diary, but you can still tell that it was meant to be shared. Microphone screeches and all the beauty to be found when collaborating with a band come to an all-time high. As they slowly fade with Haley’s vocalizations, you can’t help but take a moment to reflect. It has that same energy you would find with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker with the instrumentals of Paramore and Fleetwood Mac. Haley Blais has that identical passion and lyrical ingenuity which leaves you with a feeling of contentment and completeness.
We can’t help but listen, and fortunately for us, we won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Listen to “Small Foreign Faction” by Haley Blais on all streaming services and on Bandcamp here.