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Originally published Friday, November 11, 2011 at 5:34 AM

It's about time for Feist

Feist, the 35-year-old, Grammy-nominated Canadian singer, has been on hiatus for a year, but she's back on the scene with a fine new album, "Metals." She performs Thursday, Nov. 17, at Seattle's Moore Theatre.

Special to The Seattle Times

On the Internet

Hear Feist: www.youtube.com, search "Feist," "How Come You Never Go There."

Concert preview

Feist

8 p.m. Thursday at the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle; $33-$38 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
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It's about time for Leslie Feist.

Literally. Time is on her mind, and playing with time is what brought the 35-year-old Canadian singer — who plays the Moore Theatre Thursday — to her fourth album, "Metals."

Feist (she records under just her last name) talks about time in philosopher's terms.

"It's like the most complicated origami," she said with a laugh, calling last week from her home in Toronto.

But her real trick was making time stop. After releasing "The Reminder" in 2007, which earned her four Grammy nominations and spawned the mega hit and iPod-commercial soundtrack "1234," Feist pressed the pause button.

"You know how difficult it is to stop a boulder from rolling down hill," she said. "I wanted to come to a complete stop and then see if I had enough fuel to get moving again from a natural perspective, rather than just be going on gravity."

So in the midst of an upward professional trajectory that started at the age of 15, Feist stopped touring and didn't pick up her guitar until she felt inspired anew — more than a year later. "Metals," recorded in a cabin perched above the California coast, feels expansive, a little wild. It's as if nature beyond is slowly encroaching — and sometimes fully taking control.

Like her other jazzy, folk-pop albums, there are sweet, soaring melodies with a perfect balance of winsome and wistful. But "Metals" punches, too. Songs ebb like waves, creeping in and crashing to a climax. A chorus of voices chain-gang on "Undiscovered First"; shouts of men burst in on "A Commotion." It's a communal type of storytelling that Feist began to explore in "Sea Lion Woman," from "The Reminder."

"Things that seem to motivate people, they seem to be kind of the same over the last thousand years," she said. "They just take different aesthetic forms. It felt right to create a place where a lot of people could be saying it, not just me. It sort of bolsters up whatever the idea is that's being multiplied by all those voices."

The ideas of "Metals" are a little bit sparser than in Feist's previous works — less blatantly autobiographical, more simply poetic, and filled with more forward-looking sentiments, which is new for her.

"I've mostly always been nostalgic," she said. "This is sort of the first time where I'm taking a look at the present as much as I am at the past, and I'm kind of more interested in the future."

Joanna Horowitz: jbhorowitz@gmail.com

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