Canadian singer goes to Cuba and records an album in the same studio as Buena Vista Social Club-members recorded: talk about putting the son into chanson. As I understand it from this biography, Philémon Bergeron-Langlois (aka Philemon Chante) did contact a few people before he went to the island, but wasn’t fully prepared. It took him about a week to find the right musicians. He was lucky to get recording time at the famous Egrem Studios, where Beny Moré, Ruben Gonzales and a whole bunch of legendary Cuban musicians worked. Yami, who sings harmonies, did not speak French. Not a problem, as Gainsbourg once proved when he had the I-Threes sing phonetically on his two reggae-albums. And so does Yami on Philemon Chante’s Session Cubaines.
It’s a beautiful album, very sparsely arranged, with touches of piano, hints of trumpet and mostly gentle strumming. Philemon’s voice is like Vincent Delerm’s, you either like his ‘on the verge of tears-style’, or you don’t. I think it adds to the melancholy of the music, the calm atmosphere in the songs. Let the sun shine.