2 Frères: Nous Autres

December 5, 2016

2freres3Belle Epoque

Listening Post 76. Erik and Sonny Caouette sing songs of love and social awareness that evoke, in the words of one reviewer, “the belle époque of the chansonniers”—an age of activism that animated Québec culture in the 1960s and 70s. Nous Autres (We Ourselves), their debut album, is a 12-track folk-pop collection that embodies tradition in an uncertain era hungry for authenticity. They are at their most innocent and nostalgic in the record-store romance 33 tours (33 RPM), about a shy clerk and a customer stammering and stalling for weeks, ostensibly over Johnny Cash’s first album, as each tries to find the nerve to make a move (video 1). Piano and strings set a different tone for M’aimerais-tu pareil? (Would You Love Me the Same?), one of five tracks written by Erik and Sonny, expressing anxiety about the security of love over a lifetime—“If I get grumpy… forget your birthday… complain incessantly… when I am gone” (video 2). The title song honors family, friendship and community—the people who “Whenever we can we throw our arms around…” (video 3); while Qu’est-ce que tu dirais? (What Would You Say?) shows passion igniting between old friends (video 4). There’s also conflict in the northland: Maudite Promesse (Cursed Promise) covers the pain of a breakup; Le démon du midi analyzes midlife crisis. And the brothers offer two songs that fall between patriotic hymn and march: Dans not’ salon (In Our Living Room), a fireside reflection on Québec identity and hockey; and Casseroles et clairons (Pans and Trumpets) a rousing grassroots protest against unresponsive leaders—both ultimately coming back to community. Nous Autres offers a particular vision that speaks to everyone. (MP3 Disques)






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