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LE VENT DU NORD - Le Part Du Feu

LE VENT DU NORD - Le Part Du Feu
Borealis Records BCD199

To many, the thought of French-Canadian music will be of the dance music: driving reels enlivened by rhythmic quirks and uneven phrase-lengths.  This band can easily delight with that – their tune sets positively glitter.  But there is also a rich repertoire of song to be discovered and it is on this that Le Vent Du Nord concentrate. 

The honeyed voice of Nicolas Boulerice is ideally suited to the range of traditional and self-penned material to be found here, and it is complemented by the other band members, whether doing the call-and-response refrains or adding harmonies.  The songs are fascinating and beautifully delivered, using some scintillating instrumental work – whether Olivier Demers’ fiddle, Réjean Brunet’s box or Simon Beaudry’s guitars – to bring the best out of the meaning of the song. 

But the thing that brings it all together is the quality of the arrangements.  Always skilful but never laboured, they have a terrific sense of how to use timbre, or dynamic variety and rhythmic touches, all of which they use to support the song, rather than it being used for its own sake.  What in other circumstances would be gimmicky, such as the spacey electric guitar on Le Metier, or the verses of treated voice on the opening track Lanlaire, are shown as carefully calculated methods to enhance the melody and words.  On one number they are even joined by the brass of Grűv’ N Brass to out-souriante la Bottine! 

It would have been nice to have had English translations of the lyrics, rather than just of the background of the songs – surely one of the many organisations funding the album could have been persuaded to add a few more pages to the booklet?

Absolutely superb.  In my view, when it comes to Quebecois music, this lot are top of the pile.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 86 of The Living Tradition magazine.