Track: Renée Reed – ‘Neboj’: mysterious verdancy from rising Louisiana folk chanteuse

Renée Reed, photographed by LeAnn B Stephan

WE’RE just a fortnight, a little more, away from the release of Renée Reed’s self-titled debut album, one on which she reveals a mysterious, perfumed songwriting aesthetic, steeped in the Cajun culture she grew up within.

And today’s she’s dropped a third single from that album, “Neboj”; it’s a languid thrill, as you can hear below. Go press play.

You’ll find the song darkly verdant, like brushing aside dusk ferns; lusciously pretty, fashioned from a cycling arpeggio which pretty soon envelops you.

Renée is breathy, the melody winding and baroque, almost like an escapee from Pearls Before Swine or The Left Banke; effortlessly beautiful.

It makes a fine triptych of songs lined up alongside the candlelit enchantment of last month’s Francophone “Où est la fée”; and January’s  “Fast One”; dreamlike and potent.

The title? “Neboj” is originally a Czech word, pronounced “nuh-boy” by Cajuns, and part of the great amalgamation that is Cajun music. For Renée, this is a song about letting go and not being afraid to fall in love, to just trust her heart.

Renée grew up on the accordion-bending knee of her grandfather Harry Trahan, in the middle of countless jam sessions at the one-stop Cajun shop owned by her parents Lisa Trahan and Mitch Reed, and soaked in the storytelling of her great uncle, the folklorist Revon Reed and his infamous brothers from Mamou.

She was surrounded by a litany of Cajun and Creole music legends, both backstage at the many festivals of Southwest Louisiana, and on the porch of her family home. 

The album, she says, is “… a collection of songs about toxic relationships, seeing ghosts, ancestral baggage and blessings, and daydreaming about love.

“It is about certain feelings and experiences I’ve had over my life coming to fruition in the past three years.

“It was all made on a four-track recorder at home, in a place and in a way I feel most natural, and I believe that quality comes through in the sound.” 

Renée describes her music as dream-fi folk from the Cajun prairies, and the album as a whole document of me coming to terms with myself and embracing who I am without reserve.” 

We like the album a whole damn lot. It’s very personal and yet conveys a sense of place and of time effortlessly; we’ve noted of the album that it’s “spun from very clever finery; a flow of tracks, folky and so American and yet so European, psychedelic in the way Devendra is, spectral in the way Marissa Nadler so is; Espers, but less mushroomy … I’m not sure if I want to wake from this particular spell.”

Look out for our review of the album on the morning of the 22nd.

Renée Reed’s self-titled debut album will be released by Keeled Scales digitally, cassette, CD and LP on March 26th; it’s available for pre-order here.

Follow Renée on Instagram, at her official website and on Bandcamp.

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