Le Vent du Nord: Têtu

vent2North Stars

Listening Post 16. If you associate the North Wind only with cold air, open your ears. Le Vent du Nord, the four-man vanguard of the Québec folk scene, offers the sounds of melodeon and hurdy-gurdy, assorted strings (violin, bouzouki, guitar), rhythmic foot stomping and stirring vocal harmonies. Têtu (Headstrong), the band’s eighth album, is a dazzling 15-track collection of original and traditional songs at turns rollicking and sad, fanciful and forlorn—and consistently beautiful. Confédération is a self-deprecating cri de coeur over Canadian history (video 1); the refrain, “Why don’t the Francophones remember?” refers to several nineteenth-century episodes that impacted French rights. The song is also so exuberant it is likely to appeal to even the most ardent federalist. At the other end of the spectrum is Petite rêve IX, one of the album’s five instrumental tracks. Haunting and short, it’s a prelude to Pauvre enfant (Poor Child), an achingly magnificent orphan’s lament, perfectly suspended between pathos and forced joy, never slipping into either (video 2). Among many other unforgettable songs are two ballads, Le Rosier (The Rose) and L’échafaud (The Scaffold), about men who risk everything for love, and the protest saga Forillon, about a heavy-handed land expropriation in Gaspé. Out of personal and collective travails, Le Vent du Nord has woven an irresistible musical tapestry strong enough to redefine the coldest wind. (Les Disques Borealis/Borealis Records)

 


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