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)

Written by guuzbourg

French girls, singing. No, sighing. Making me sigh. Ah.

This article has 2 comments

  1. marksl

    The link to all the album is: http://mariannebel.bandcamp.com/album/le-balcon
    You can hear there all the tracks before deciding whether to buy (download)

    All (except the song in Spanish which is at http://mariannebel.bandcamp.com/track/prisonero ) have lyrics on the page which you can follow.

    A photo on MBL’s facebook pages (she has two different ones at the moment) show her holding a CD of ‘Le Balcon’. How to buy it outside Canada is unclear, as amazon.ca does not have it for sale yet.

    In ‘Dagmar’ (who is she, one wonders?)
    MBL has a definite Québecois voice, especially when counting the numbers in the lyrics. On other tracks such as ‘Le Balcon’ and ‘Irène’ MBL sings more like a French chanteuse. Great variety ! Watch her talk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkNh1H0yiRM&feature=youtu.be


    1,2,3,4,5,6,7 chats, pu de place sous les draps
    Mais 10,15,20 conseils madame monsieur pour être heureux
    Faites une place dans la couchette qu’on parle de vos problèmes
    Je suis une femme d’expérience

    Si vous voulez que ça change, laissez-moi regarder dans le noir

    Psycho pop à la soupe populaire près de chez vous
    Confessions nocturnes, pensées adultères au rendez-vous
    Laissez parler vos désirs, laissez monter l’orgasme
    Mais permettez-moi de vous dire

    Si vous voulez que ça change, je dois regarder dans le noir

    Je veux savoir tous les détails, décrivez-moi l’attirail
    Plus ça croustille sous la dent, plus on aime et plus ça vend

    Si vous voulez que ça change, laissez-moi regarder dans le noir

    1,2,3,4,5,6,7 cobayes dessous des draps
    10,15,20 histoires, on se console quand on se compare
    Je prends une place dans votre couchette pour estomper la gêne
    Je suis une femme de science

    Si vous voulez que ça change, laissez-moi regarder dans le noir

    MBL’s facebooks:
    (1) https://www.facebook.com/marianne.beauprelaperriere
    (2) https://www.facebook.com/marianne.beauprelaperriere#!/musiquemariannebel?fref=ts