Sous Les Quais: L’âme ronde

March 21, 2017

Souls of Their Street

Listening Post 91. You won’t soon forget the three artists of Sous les Quais. Frédéric Flouret (deep vocals, guitar), Romain Jamard (an accordion he calls his “third lung”) and Benoît Grelier (sonorous cello) offer street corner French chanson—early twentieth century style—and typically perform their songs in a stage-set living room crammed with flea market finds, down to their vintage suits. Fred’s lyrics are mostly about love’s weight and complication, but the band’s optics carry a cheeky vein that perhaps reflects his background in sketch comedy. L’âme ronde (The Well-Rounded Soul) is the group’s second album, and you can almost feel the cobblestones under your feet as you move in step to its 11 songs. The title track is a self-mocking confession: “Like a snake that bites itself/Like a man who sells himself to the most expensive devil” (video 1). Le vieil homme (The Old Man) is a street busker’s poignant story: “To believe his songs/He had traveled to a thousand lands/Experienced a thousand passions/Seen every war…His song was his struggle/That he screamed into the wind” (video 2). The extravagance of L’amour pauvre (Poor Man’s Love) is in the poetry: “I have only this rose for you/And my sincerity without cunning/I promise you every day a bouquet of tender words/Dedicated to your contours and curves” (video 3). Skip across the stones and you’ll also encounter the mournful La plaine (Wind on the Plain) about a forgiving man with an unfaithful lover; Sourire (Smile), not so much about happiness as the power to find it; and the gentle instrumental Valse à 5 temps (Five-Step Waltz). L’âme ronde is a marvelous medley of elements, a collection of illuminating shadows and aches that feel just right. (Traquenard Production)






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