Bonsoir, Catin: L’aurore

A League of Their Own

Listening Post 164. The five women and one man of Bonsoir, Catin do superbly everything you’d expect of a Cajun band, and they are always tossing something new into the gumbo. They set any feet within hollering distance two-stepping and waltzing to their vivacious tunes. They spin evocative stories of desire and heartbreak with a feminist edge. They revere tradition but also build on it—of the 13 songs on L’aurore (Aurora), 10 are new, written by band members. In addition to familiar Cajun music touches of rock, blues, funk or R&B, they add deftly placed classical tones. Their French lyrics will, to be sure, take you to the dancehall, beyond the levee and into the big woods—but also to Paris and Alaska. They know when to double down: L’amour, l’amour (Love, Love) is an impressionistic reverie of young passion in the City of Light, beginning with lead songwriter/accordionist Kristi Guillory intoning “La vie en rose…” (video 1). Music is channelling nature in the title track, inspired by a night in Juneau when the band did a concert, then stepped outside and saw the northern lights (video 2); the aurora borealis likewise inspired the song’s classical fadeout, with strings and French horn, into Si loin (So Far), a more traditional story involving a young couple, theft and flight (video 3). The title figure of ‘Tit ange (Little Angel) is a nuisance to women who want to throw off inhibition and have a good time (video 4). L’aurore is good with a changeup: A wink at a bar ignites Je t’oublie (I Have to Forget), a languid one-night-stand waltz, while Squirrel Song is a foot stomper built around a hard-drinking rodent. The members of Bonsoir, Catin inhabit the heart of Louisiana French culture but they are also in a league of their own. (Valcour Records)

Bonsoir, Catin means “Good Night, Doll.” The band’s members:
Kristi Guillory, accordion, vocals
Christine Balfa, acoustic guitar, vocals
Anya Burgess, fiddle, vocals
Maegan Berard, electric guitar, vocals
Ashley Hayes Steele, bass guitar, vocals
Daniel Devillier, drums, percussion, vocals

 

L’amour l’amour/Love, Love (Kristi Guillory)
“The rosy life, dreams shine in yellow/
My faithful heart that I share with everyone
Soaring spirit, dreams crash in blue/
Your faithful heart on the Boulevard Malesherbes

The runaway life, wishes run in red/
My heart beads in danger of toughening
The runaway spirit holier than the tip of a steeple/You took my hand on the Place de la Madeleine 

Sadness and friendship/Youth, truth
Love, love
/Love, love”

 

L’aurore/Aurora (Kristi Guillory)
“Paint a song/
Of mountain summits

Sing the flight of an eagle/
That illuminates the highest Heavens

I write for a dance/
A gift for your soul

I give you angel’s wings/Aurora borealis

Carve the voice of the waves/
That swear an oath to peace on Earth
Sing the suite of ravens/
The howling of wolves”

 

Si loin/So Far (Ashley Hayes Steele)
“I’m going, I’m going into the big woods/
So far, so far from all my troubles

Don’t tell, don’t tell your mama
Maybe I could see you again tonight
/It’s hard to stay here, so far away in the big woods

My father, my father will kill me for sure/If he sees me on the other side of the levee
And the money, the money that I stole/
It will never, it will never be enough
I have to stay here, so far away in the big woods

If you, if you love me like you’ve told me/Don’t look for me, and stay right here
And don’t tell, don’t tell your mama
Maybe I could see you again tonight/It’s hard to stay here, so far away in the big woods”

 

‘Tit ange/Little Angel (Ashley Hayes Steele & Maegan Berard)
“I put my knees to the floor before you came/I paid for my sins a long time ago
My wings are cut, my heart is frozen/
I need some flames to warm it

I’ve done all I could do to not cut loose/With wine on my lips I couldn’t help myself
It’s time for you to leave/
Little angel on my shoulder

My beer is cold, my dress is short/My guitar has new strings
There’s too much smoke but I like it
I can promise you I won’t miss you/Little angel on my shoulder”

 

 


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