House of Words is a pleasant francophone effort by the Quebec City-based Aurian Haller Band featuring a flowing mixture of indie-folk complemented by the eponymous singer’s poetic lyrics in both English and French. However, in a country where bilingualism is underpromoted and the ability to speak French is dishearteningly absent in many anglophone communities, the Aurian Haller Band has succeeded in assuaging the – apparent or unapparent – concerns of non-francophones by producing a charmingly accessible record wherein both sides of bilingual Canada can equally appreciate. The majority of House of Words is performed in English but periodically shifts to French several times throughout the album on: “Les orphelins,” “La premiere,” and “Façonne abandonne.” Of which, all three are arguably the most complete and actualized songs on House of Words. Although, they might be lost in translation to those unfamiliar with the language.
Even so, there are moments on the album where Haller’s lyrics are so poetically folksy, so spoken, deliberate, and calculated, that sections of House of Words feel as if they were meant to accompany some rousing scene in some long past, reputable Western. Conversely, there are also moments that simply get lost in the ironically cohesive end product. Fortunately for the Band, these unmemorable (the “bad and the ugly”) moments can be overlooked thanks to the strength of the “good.” Songs like “Sister Moon,” and “If Only” are beautifully performed and prove that Haller and company are more than capable of making good music. As the opening, and closing, of House of Words may sum up Aurian Haller and his Band best. The intro, “Wolf at the Door,” provides an appreciative sound most familiar to any fan of indie rock or folk music; while the ending track, “Tripwire,” accentuates the quirky romanticism that one might expect from an award-winning poet with Haller reciting line after line atop a jazzy, drum-ridden, slam jam outro. The fusion of these two styles makes for an enjoyable and meaningful listen during the album’s hour-long runtime. In the end, Haller’s folk poetics are foundationally strong and warrant a curiosity towards his future works. Hopefully, the Aurian Haller Band will continue to create music that is similarly cohesive to House of Words, yet more liberal in their ability to captivate entirely throughout their next project.