Marie-Pierre Arthur

20150222 MPA Artwork2It’s probably safe to say that Marie-Pierre Arthur’s new album “Si l’aurore” has been eagerly awaited in these parts. However, those of you expecting it to follow the familiar well-worn chemin of her indie-rock and folk-tinged predecessors (2009’s eponymous debut and 2012’s break-out “Aux alentours”) might be in for a bit of a surprise…

“Si l’aurore” sees Marie-Pierre take a confident step-back into the past to create an album full of soulful, synthesiser-infused songs that hark-back to the era of late 70’s, early 80’s pop and an apparent love of “yacht rock” (shudders – wasn’t that why we invented Punk)? The single and opening track “Rien à faire” has already garnered rave reviews on these very pages and to these ears there’s more than a touch of the Fleetwood Mac to be detected.

The title track, “Si l’aurore”, is a nailed-on 80’s bluesy, dance-floor smoocher, while “Papillons de nuit” and “Il” sound like 70’s French pop-songs (which since they’re pop-songs – sung in French – probably isn’t that surprising); both are – to my mind – reminiscent of the group Il Était Une Fois.

It should be noted that whereas Marie-Pierre’s previous albums were primarily guitar-led (indeed she’s no mean bassist herself), keyboards are omnipresent here. However those longing for the Marie-Pierre of old should find comfort and solace with “La toile”, a fine contemporary pop-rock song, while “Cacher l’hiver” is an irresistible up-tempo number that could have quite easily been recorded during the sessions for “Aux alentours”, save there’s just a hint of the Stevie Nicks in the refrain (there’s those Fleetwood Mac references again).

Arguably though the most ambitious song on the album – and at a little over 6 minutes, also the longest – is “Comme avant”, which mixes her indie-folk past with the soft rock sound that she has encapsulated on this album. The retro-vibe is deliberately throttled back and for the first couple of minutes you could be mistaken that you’re listening to an out-take from her earlier albums… And then about half-way through, the mood suddenly changes; the song fades to simple piano and vocals interlude that ultimately climbs and soars… Just as it reaches a crescendo, it breaks-out into the most uplifting of saxophone solos (curtesy of Yannick Rieu) and a cacophony of keyboards and percussion. It’s an absolutely stunning composition and arguably amongst the best she’s recorded.

“Si l’aurore” is a good album, but it isn’t perfect. The lines between homage and cheesiness tend to become blurred and anyone expecting an album along the lines of Marie-Pierre Arthur’s earlier offerings might be disappointed. However, it’s still mighty fine and more than worth a listen…

Marie-Pierre Arthur

Welcome in the 10th year of Here’s a new track by Marie-Pierre Arthur. Guestposter Mark Sullivan has the news:

Et voilà – Marie-Pierre Arthur is Filles Sourires’ first new song of 2015.
‘Rien à faire’ is the advance track of her third album, ‘Si l’aurore’ (does the title remind you of anything?) due out on 17 February. It catches the ear straight away – and seems a definite move by MPA from folk-rock into pop. The beginning has a late 80s feel: it recalls for me the start of ‘Love Power’, the Dionne Warwick – Jeffrey Osborne number by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. And it’s a potential dance track. It puts Marie-Pierre into yacht rock/AOR territory, Taylor Swift territory even. And it’s better than Swift’s own move from country & western into pure pop.
This augurs well / cela est de bon augure pour l’album.

Monogrenade featuring Marie-Pierre Arthur

Yes, Marie-Pierre Arthur, star of many appreciative posts on this blog, teams up with one of Canada’s most prolific rock bands, Monogrenade. The result is here, and downloadable for free!

Marianne Bel


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)

Montréal Magnifique: Marie-Pierre A. (Country Return)

Marie-Pierre Arthur’s brand new album Aux Alentours being a fave drug at FS headquarters right now, we’ve got an excellent reason to throw a retrospective look over the shoulder: Actually, her self-titled 2009 debut features a lot of that distinctive Opal/ Mazzy Star feel from those Early Recordings times when Kendra Smith was still around – including the highly artful Ma tête à off, a super laidback country slow burner with a tenderly floating quality. Similarly captivating: Her version of Nino Ferrer’s 1972 smash hit La maison près de la fontaine, slightly countrified for the Canadian hommage compilation Allo Nino.

Marie-Pierre Arthur – Ma tête à off

Marie-Pierre Arthur – La maison près de la fontaine
Nino Ferrer – La maison près de la fontaine

Marie-Pierre Arthur: Aux Alentours

Problem with Jan/ Feb releases is that they usually are forgotten by the end of the year. Not this one. We already fell in love with Québecoise singer Marie-Pierre Arthur after discovering her on Buck 65’s brilliant 20 Odd Years and her first, self-titled solo effort featuring the lovely folk-pop gem Pourquoi in 2009. Her brand new album, Aux Alentours, features finest eclectic fille pop all the way, combining shades of 70s glam rock, intricate touches of 80s dream pop and glimpses of retro attitude: Her voice encompasses the raw and the smooth perfectly, the tunes changing effortlessly between catchy melodies, gritty riffs and sweet, at times angelic moods. Marie-Pierre has claimed somewhere that originality does not exist, but proves herself wrong with almost every single song: Aux Alentours may start in Reference Alley, but heads straight to Reinvention Boulevard in that Grand State of the Art.

Marie-Pierre Arthur – Pour une fois
Marie-Pierre Arthur – Les infidèles

Buck 65 w/ Marie-Pierre Arthur – Final Approach

The Raw and the Smooth

Buck 65’s Talkin’ Honky Blues was nothing less than a revelation in 2003: There was rap again, whitebread hip-hop even, thrown in a centrifuge together with folk flavour, reverbs of Cash-ified country and Salinger echoes of adolescent blues, refined with a hoarse, rusty voice that certainly didn’t come straight outta Compton, but out of Mt. Uniacke, some distant hicktown in Nova Scotia, Can. Rich Terfry/ Buck 65 was already a vet way back then, now celebrating 20 Odd Years with his aptly titled new record. Actually, it feels like a perfected roundup of his earlier efforts, a panopticon of sounds oscillating with a sleepwalker’s certainty between the raw and the smooth, the sharp strangehold of Zombie Delight, the sparse, solemn intensity of She Said Yes, or Stop, a duet pop gem with Canadian singer Hannah Georgas sounding like having been written by the new President of the Blondie fan club. Unquestionably a superior contender for album of 2011, 20 Odd Years also features two French language tunes – Final Approach, an amiable collaboration with Quebecoise chanteuse Marie-Pierre Arthur, and Tears of Your Heart, a gorgeous alliance with Parisian associate Olivia Ruiz: This is the nouveau western.

Buck 65 w/ Marie-Pierre Arthur – Final Approach

Buck 65 w/ Olivia Ruiz – Tears of Your Heart