What if classically trained violinist Margaux Sauvé opted to continue to pursue a career in classical music? Could she have performed with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal or possibly the New York Philharmonic? We may never know the answer because the Quebec City native chose a different path that steered her to the contemporary and the future. She chose to share her own stories and compositions under her dream-pop / ambient / downtempo project, Ghostly Kisses.

Her debut EP, What You See, was a peek into her widescreen yet stunning approach. The record was filled with breathtaking moments, which one imagined could exist in dreams or on the big screen. On her sophomore EP, The City Holds My Heart, she broadens her scope, and, in the process, she delivers one of the year’s most outstanding and gorgeous mini-records.

“The City Holds My Heart” opens the EP, and it sets the tone for the rest of five-track record. It is stunningly cinematic, and it leaves the listener suspended from the first to the very last note. The elegant piano gracefully meshes the lingering guitar, trembling percussion, and the soft cry of the synth, and the combination yields a melody that is both haunting and exhilarating. Sauvé’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, meanwhile, reveal the conflicting emotions that overwhelm her. She grapples with the difficult decision to stay with the ones she loves and in the safety of the place she calls home or to seek new adventures and broaden her horizons . Her lyrics are poetic, and among the very moving lines are:

“The city holds my heart
Within walls of glass and steel.
Can’t you see I just can’t go?
These walls are all I know.”

With “Touch”, Sauvé unveils a jaw-dropping, gorgeous tune. The trip-hop approach is akin to the breathtaking spectacles of Massive Attack and Portishead, where the beats are slowed to create the intimacy of an unexpected midnight encounter. Strings are added to intensify the tension that exists between two lovers, who have grown apart. Sauvé’s vocals are intimate yet vulnerable, and they reflect the pain and loneliness growing within in her. As she sings:

“Can you tell me why, you keep your distance like this?
I want to feel your touch.
I want to feel, I want to feel your touch.”

Sauvé slows things down ever so slightly with “Spellbound”. The song commences diligently, as soft beats and a humming synth support Sauvé’s alluring vocals. She weaves a fairy tale-like story about a young woman in love with someone she cannot have, but she endlessly dreams about the possibility fate may intervene.

Sauvé elevates the dreaminess on the captivating and beautiful “Héloïse”. The classic tones of the piano open the track, and gradually a soft harp and additional strings enter the fray. Within sixty seconds, enchantment and intoxication set in, and one is left feeling as if they are floating through the skies or traveling within the weightless environment of space. However, this place is closer to home for Sauvé, and her story builds upon the title track. She reveals the sacrifice of others, including her mother, while reflecting on her own choices. The song is stunning not only in its sonic beauty, but also in Sauvé’s honesty.

The EP comes to a close with a cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”. Whereas many artists and bands try to match the original’s gritty darkness, Sauvé slows it down and turns it into a gorgeous lullaby. The approach also turns Dolores O’Riordan’s story about a 1993 IRA bombing into a memorial to the victims. Although the rendition is more subdued and intimate, it is still immensely moving and emotional. It showcases Sauvé’s brilliance, who is able to take an all-time classic and make it feel fresh without losing its gripping power. She’s one of Canada’s most exciting young talents and an artist whose music stays with you long after the final song finishes.

Purchase The City Holds My Heart on Bandcamp or head over to Manimal Vinyl to get it.

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