Les Soeurs Boulay spoiled their fans with a free songs this week. If you’re not on their mailing list (click!), but call yourself a fan, you should really hear this great track. Includes a musical saw!
Les Soeurs Boulay – Ça
Quebec, we love you baby. Here’s yet another reason.
Twenty-something singer-songwriter Marianne Bel (real name Beaupre Laperriere) comes from a very musical family who has wisely decided to pen some rather serious chansons and canciones. Having been both a finalist and showered with awards at several musical festivals, both in her native Quebec and France, she released her debut album “Le Balcon” earlier this month.
Even upon the first listen it is obviously apparent that here we have yet another extremely talented French-Canadian singer-songwriter who, similar to a number of her Quebec-based contemporaries, has not only been unafraid to blur the boundaries of different musical genres, but also pulled-off the end result with seemingly effortless aplomb.
The accompanying sleeve notes describe an album that converges folk, jazz and poetry; and those aforementioned musical notes are immediately detectable in spades – there’s a nice symmetry to the composition and structure of the album. The unashamedly country “Le pans de rideau” has a detectable jazz undercurrent, while guitar, violin and banjo ensures that the album’s folklorique roots are to the fore on both “Les couilles” and the album’s title track.
The album’s opener “Blanc et noire” is a perfect example of the statement this album is making – think Zaz with a simple double bass laying down the back-beat and waiting until the horn section really kicks in. I suspect that renowned economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman just might like this.
The reference to Zaz is quite deliberate, because in a similar vein, Marianne Bel is first and foremost a bona-fide chanteuse who sings proper chansons, as she ably demonstrates on “L’aveugle et le mime”. It’s also obvious from even a cursory listen to this album reveals a vocalist equally at home with a multitude of different styles – jazz, country, folklorico, simmering ballads or toe-tapping pop songs.
However, it’s probably fairer to say that this album is a far more ambitious affair. The atmospheric “Prisionero”, sung note-perfectly a cappella style in Spanish, is an achingly beautifully lament which shares several roots with its Iberian counterpart fado, (frankly, I’m trying desperately to convey how haunting this song is – it’s a bit of a favourite), while the horns on “Les outardes” add a real flavour of Mexico and mariachi, providing a tease of Latin culture that occasionally surfaces throughout the album.
In sharp contrast, “Dagmar” sees Marianne turn her hand to a nigh-on, unashamed, perfect (and wickedly racy) pop song – all fellow Quebecer Marie-Pierre Arthur meets Feist in an incredibly uptempo and catchy of choruses kind of way.
A mention has to be made to the great production qualities that are apparent throughout the album – especially the vocal mixing. By the second track, “Jour de page”, you’re starting to get an inkling of the shear breathless, effortless style and dynamic range of Marianne’s voice – the vocals soaring over another light jazz-tinged slow-burner of a song. Meanwhile on the aforementioned “Les outardes”, the resulting multi-dubbed vocal chorus offers favourable comparisons to those sweeping angelic harmonies that have become the Boulay sisters‘ trademark.
It’s actually hard to believe that this polished and professional album is Marianne’s debut offering. There’s a maturity and assuredness far beyond her tender years on display here and is more than worth a listen.
(If you hadn’t guessed already, this is a guestpost by Steve)
Guestpost! Steve on the new Les Soeurs Boulay album:
So my eagerly awaited event this month is the release of Les Soeurs Boulay’s debut album ‘Le poids des confettis’ (The weight of confetti). Regular readers may already know that since I discovered their eponymous EP, I have been deeply enamoured with the angelic crispness of the girls’ vocal harmonies… But would the album live up to my expectations? I’ve placed Gaspé’s Melanie and Stéphanie Boulay on such a high pedestal that if they were to slip they’d be surely shattered into a thousand pieces…
One listen and any fears have long since been dispelled. The girls’ haunting melodies are still there to the fore, but there’s a new found certain assuredness which can be discerned not only in the reinterpretation of the songs off their earlier EP, but also those debuting on this album. There’s an added depth and warmth to the rhythmic melodies which as always complements the fresh clarity of the sisters’ vocal style – none more so than on “Un trou noir au bout d’un appât”
There’s more than a hint of early Simon and Garfunkel, especially the way their voices are almost telepathically intertwined (Check out there cover of “The Boxer” here), and on “Chanson de Route”, there’s the added benefit of highlighting that the girls sound as fresh (and yes, “fragile”) in English as they do French.
Ultimately this is an album chock full of songs about love, life, heartbreak. At times intimate and introverted (“Mappemonde”), others bold and extrovert (“Ôte-moi mon linge”), sometimes almost downright danceable – certainly in a toe-tapping kind of way (“Par Le Chignon de Cou”). All with faintest of country-folk tinges that makes you yearn for the ruggedness of the Atlantic coastline.
It’s March and already I have a pretty good idea as to my album of the year 2013. Check it out for yourselves as it can be streamed here – until the album’s official release.
Steve from SoCal on his new discovery, two folksy, note-perfect Canadian singing sisters. Any relation to Isabelle? We don’t know, yet.
Thought I’d drop you a line about Les Soeurs Boulay who I “discovered” while trawling Bandcamp after stumping up for Marie Pierre Arthur’s EXCELLENT (can’t emphasis that enough) “Aux alentours” album…
I don’t know that much about les Soeurs Boulay, Melanie and Stephanie, except that they’re from Gaspesie in Quebec have just released their eponymous debut 5-track EP through Bandcamp. There’s a certain sparseness, cleanliness about the sound; absolutely note-perfect harmonies with minimal backing from just an acoustic guitar or ukulele(!) There’s more than a hint of early (think folksy) Simon and Garfunkel in the EP’s opener “Lola en confiture”, although my personal favourite is the slightly up-tempo “Des shooters de fort sur ton bras” It should be noted that there’s a definite “country folk” undercurrent runs through all five tracks, but don’t let that put you off. While there’s a certain “tristesse” to the lyrics there’s also an haunting achingness that forces you to just wants to come back for more.
Highly recommended, and as a taster, “Priere” is available for free from the girl’s bandcamp site