Listening Post 225. In the natural world, wind and time typically join forces to produce erosion and environmental damage, but the union of Le Vent du Nord and De Temps Antan, two leading bands on Quebec’s traditional music landscape, has a purely euphoric effect. The groups, connected by ties of friendship, family and a shared manager, discussed a joint appearance as early as 2008 and finally mounted a concert—ironically dubbed “Solo” for the combined eight musicians—in 2016. They repeated the show over the next two years and ultimately turned it into Notre Album Solo. The joint venture presents a fresh repertoire of both archival songs and new material composed by members of both bands. Rather than record the studio version one song per session, they did a single 11-track sequence to preserve the momentum and adrenaline of the stage. On the album they sing of women, wine, manly pursuits and identity, their amplified arsenal yielding a trad/symphonic effect with a stunning harmony spectrum and redoubled strings, accordion and the tac-tic-a-tac of French Canadian foot stomping. Camarades (Compatriots) is a rousing essay of a song, a quest to escape Canada’s binary federation-separation dilemma: “You see an end, I see a prelude/Not a broken country but a new welding” (video 1). Romance begins in hope with M’en allant chasser (Going Hunting, video 2) and ends in the unexpected/painful wisdom of Le sort des amoureux (The Fate of Lovers, video 3). The antidote to lost love is apparent in Verse verse (Pour, Pour), a toast to friends in times of sorrow, ending with the comforting dictum, “Good drinkers are never afraid of anything” (video 4). Ripped or sober, whether listening to joyous or cautionary tales, no one sits still for a performance of this collective. The Vent-Temps alliance won’t harm the earth below, but it will certainly bring you to your feet. (La Compagnie du Nord)
Le Vent du Nord* & De Temps Antan*: Notre Album Solo
Éric Beaudry (Temps): Vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, guitar, foot tapping
Simon Beaudry (Vent): Vocals, bouzouki, guitar
David Boulanger (Temps): Vocals, fiddle
Nicolas Boulerice (Vent): Vocals, hurdy-gurdy, organ, piano, snare drum
André Brunet (Vent): Vocals, fiddle, foot tapping
Réjean Brunet (Vent): Vocals, accordion, bass, jaw harp, piano
Olivier Demers (Vent): Vocals, fiddle, foot tapping
Pierre-Luc Dupuis (Temps): Vocals, accordion, harmonica, jaw harp, foot tapping
*Le Vent du Nord is French for “North Wind”
*De Temps Antan means “From Olden Times” and is a play on the expression De temps en temps (“From time to time”), which is pronounced the same as De Temps Antan
All works cited in this review were arranged and/or composed by members of the Solo project and include public domain repertoire—with the exception of Camarades, which includes no public domain work
Note: For the review of Le Vent du Nord’s most recent album, Territoires, see Listening Post 198, April 23, 2019.
From the album notes: This is a political pamphlet full of hope, a song about the Quebec we have and the citizens we could become. One day, our lighting technician Robert Perreault challenged Nicolas (Boulerice) to write a song that would make him want a country without resorting to history or nostalgia. Here it is!
So where are you, compatriots of hope?/Of what world are you citizens now?
Your garden is big and the trench is wide/Are you afraid of the dark, or just indifferent?
I want to be a citizen of the world’s memory/From a parcel of mixed land in America
To the inhabitants’ pathways add new steps/Well, my world is made of these people
The “I” then reaches US, the US then reaches YOU/The land, the sea and the FOLLY, sustaining TIRELOU*
Opening your house, reaching out to the other/You’d like to give yourself a name to share
For us it’s complicated, the people of Quebec/To welcome people, you need a “you”
You see an end, I see the prelude/Not a broken country but a new welding
The possibility to imagine doing better/With the vocabulary of those who named the places.
Since we are already this open nation/Now is the time to choose here
We have all we need in genes and geniuses/To birth a nation that reflects our lives
*Tirelou refers to a 1957 song, and touchstone of Quebec identity, by the singer-songwriter-poet-novelist-playwright Félix Leclerc
M’en Allant Chasser/Frères Cadets (Going Hunting/Cadet Brothers)
Walking on the prairie, on my way to hunt/Following, short of breath, behind the game
While tracking hare and rabbit/A pretty brunette cut across my path
I shouldered my weapon and let her pass/Not missing the charms of this rare beauty
What are you doing here? I asked/You seem troubled, where do you live?
My home, she said, is quite far from here
What would you give, pretty one, I inquired, if I took you there?
A sweet kiss, she said, and anything else I like
I politely presented my arm/And in small steps led her homeward
Speaking of love all along the way/We emptied a tankard of strong and good wine
And when we got to the mill hotel/We emptied five bottles, stoking the embers
Le Sort des Amoureux (The Fate of Lovers)
I pity the fate of lovers/I understand their pain
My beloved left me/What a great sorrow
Because I cannot change/I will always love her the same
Of all the girls in the district/You are the most beautiful
All the boys want you/But you’re so cruel
Object of my tender love/You beautify every day
For a long time, I have thought of you/Fair one, do you think of me?
Oh fate would be sweet to me/And my joy extreme
If I heard you say/Beloved, I adore you
For me, your eyes are the sweetest/But in them I find something to pity
You were made to be loved/But you are unfaithful
I will never change/I will always love you the same
Verse Verse (Pour, Pour)
I had a pretty girlfriend/But she cheated and I walked away
Pour, pour, yes pour to the brim/Pour, pour, my glass isn’t full
Let’s drink, my friend, let’s drink without fear of anything
We know the wine will support us, my brother
You are rich, you’ll pay the bill/Not that I’m not poor but I’ve got nothing to pay
We’ve traveled to the four corners of the earth/Good drinkers are never afraid of anything
Notre Album Solo trailer.