Who Needs Bright Lights?
Listening Post 151. You can’t take the country out of the boy. And with 2Frères—Erik and Sonny Caouette—you can’t really take the boys out the country, either. When the retro folk-rockers dreamed big, they moved from Chapais, population 1,600 and 700 kilometers north of Montreal, to Cowansville, population 12,000 and 90 kilometers east of Québec’s culture capital. So far and no farther. Unpretentious family guys, they conquered the airwaves (with invaluable input from songwriter Steve Marin) and became Canada’s most broadcast French-language artists of 2016 and 2017. For their second album, they not only felt no need to reinvent their sound, they celebrate its continuity in Comme Avant (Like Before): “We are as we were,” they sing in close harmony, “All we want is time, and the wind at our backs” (video 1). Constant in music, constant in priorities, most of La Route (The Road) is about love, family and culture. Au Sommet (At the Summit) foretells a reunion in the world to come: “You loved him so much… With his soft eyes/For a long time you’ve dreamed of joining him” (video 2). The folky romance Un Peu de Toi (A Little Bit of You) has an apt sense of direction: “We won’t lose our true north/Even in hard times” (video 3). And the hard issues come, in songs written by Erik and Sonny: The title track, a lament of two brothers—and fathers of young daughters—worried about the world’s bullies; and in Ti-gars (Little Man), about a sick child. The album’s only cover is the classic Elle Écoute Pousser les Fleurs (She Listens to the Flowers Growing, video 4) by French singer-songwriter Francis Cabrel, renowned for a career built far from the Paris lights. Still shy of 30, the Caouette brothers likewise stand in a spotlight of their own creation. (MP3 Disques)
Note: For a review of 2Frères’ first album, Nous Autres, see Listening Post 76, Dec 5, 2016.
Comme Avant/Like Before: “There’s a big horizon/Behind us, memories we’ll never forget
A full plate of emotions
The seasons line up/Love, inspiration
The direction of our choice/Even when we don’t find our destination.
But as Mama often said/Be honest and kind
We understood/And that won’t change
As we get older/We see more clearly
That the world doesn’t really change/So much as burn within
Even if there are reversals/Even if we have a little more money
We won’t change”
Au Sommet/At the Summit: “You’ll find it at the summit/At the highest peak in the world
You’ll take him by the hand/Close to him, and all your cares/Will seem small.
You wait for the melody and all its beauty, the love of your life
It will come back to you like a lightning/As your souls fly toward one another.”
Un Peu de Toi/A Little Bit of You: “Look ahead just a little
What has made these weeks that we have barely seen
Just the two of us/Our eyes in one another’s
It takes a little bit of you to know who I am/But, like others, there are times that we forget
Despite our mistakes, the detours we take/We don’t lose our true north
Even in hard times/Together we get stronger with time.
Stay with me a little before going back on tour/All summer on the blue-sky road”
Elle écoute pousser les fleurs/She Listens to the Flowers Grow
She listens to the flowers grow/Surrounded by the din of traffic
With the falling rain/And the perfume of incense
She travels in time
She has never heard/Dogs barking in the street
She makes golden bread/Everyday at four o’clock
She lives life in color
She says she’s going to take/A trip around the world
And that she will be back in time for dinner
But weak moments/And useless words
She knows all about those
She listens to the flowers growing/Surrounded by the din of traffic
When others lose their temper
When I manage to run away
It’s with her that I go to sleep