Maude Audet’s (she was just known as Maude back then) debut album “Le Temps Inventé” made one of our year-lists back in 2013 and now a couple of years later she’s back with her follow-up, “Nous sommes le feu” and while the album that doesn’t steer that far from the sweet folk-tinged pop of its predecessor, the poetic storytelling of Maude’s lyrics bring each song vividly to life.
In part the album revisits some of the themes of love and hope which were explored on her debut, the most obvious examples being “Je serai nacelle” and “Contre ton corps on se sent moins vieux.” The former is moving and heartfelt, the acoustic accompaniment the perfect accompaniment la tendresse – the lyrics convey, especially in the way the song’s mood totally changes during the uplifting and reassuring chorus – “…Je suis là, Avec toi, Je te prends, Dans mes bras…” as she deftly holds the note on each of the last syllables… “Contre ton corps on se sent moins vieux” explores the concept that love – like a fine wine – improves with age as she confesses “…Contre ton corps on se sent moins vieux, Nue sur ta peau tout semble mieux..” It’s a beautiful song that touches on sentiments similar to those of Les sœurs Boulay’s “Maison” from their album “4488 de l’Amour.”
But there’s also social dimensions that Maude is not afraid to tackle. “On leur demande” sees her address war crime that is the forced ‘recruitment’ of child soldiers in conflict-zones. Starting out like an acoustic version of a rock number, Maude expresses her disgust as the middle-eight cranks-up a reverbed cacophony of guitars. She also takes aim at the policies of austerity with the up-tempo “Troubles-fête.” Again there’s glorious chord progressions and refrains aplenty on a song that contains more than enough to keep mind and body occupied.
And then there’s also the way in which Maude uses cello sparingly to add texture and depth. On “Nous sommes le feu” the strings adds a touch of gravitas and reflection. The song itself is one of those seemingly effortless numbers which meanders along quite serenely, all the while reflecting that mankind’s actions le feu” are often destructive, when channeled as a force for good there will always be hope – the hungry bellies of the starving will be replaced by smiling children and the sweet taste of a lover’s kiss.
Nous sommes le feu” is an album full of timeless songs which are illuminated by Maude’s magnificent storytelling, the end result is an œuvre of delightful folk-tinged pop.
Québec City’s Héra Ménard is another talented auteur-compositeur-interprète from la belle province. Winner of the 2013 edition of Le Festival le Tremplin de Dégelis (joining a long and distinguished list of winners that include a certain Klô Pelgag), she released her debut EP “Et si…”
The EP’s opening and title track is delightfully up-tempo and merrily bounces along. At first Héra’s confident and bubbly vocals intertwine with just ukulele and guitar, but before long piano, percussion and even the plucked strings of a mandolin are added to the mix. The vocals are multi-tracked into the most perfect of soaring refrain. In fact Héra’s crystalline vocals also feature prominently on the foot-tappingly upbeat “Le vide.” There’s a similar bouncing refrain and nice choral touches – but lest you get the impression that Héra only has one string to her bow – there’s a sudden softening of mood and change of pace as the song draws to a close. Indeed, live – en session – with just a slight change of emphasis and vocal inflection sees the song takes on a slightly melancholic tinge, as the video below demonstrates.
The country-tinged “Je pense encore à toi” and the melodic folk-pop of “Les dernières heures” are achingly beautiful songs. Both demonstrate the softness and soulfulness of Héra’s ethereal vocals, while the addition of violin, low whistle and accordion add a haunting Celtic air to “Les dernières heures.”
There’s even something in Héra’s disarmingly engaging voice that makes the English language closing number “Lullaby” such a heartwarming and captivating song. Again accompanied by just the ukulele, Hèra suggests seductively that since there is no where else for her lover to go, staying with her tonight is the only thing to do.
Québec seems to produce more than its fair share of country-folk artists, so standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. With “Et si…”, Héra Ménard suggests she has more than enough strings to her bow to make a mark.
‘Ça (C’est vraiment nous)’ is a tribute to French rock royalty Téléphone, France’s answer to the Rolling Stones that peaked in the late seventies and sported J-L Aubert and Louis Bertignac among their members. Tribute-artists are Olivia Ruiz, Joyce Jonathan, Mademoiselle K and Plastiscines, Spotify link HERE
Heaviest track is this version by ZAZ