Émilie Janvier

She was a reality show star on Québec TV at 13 and comes from a musical family, but on Émilie Janvier’s eponymous debut album and in the interviews she’s done to promote it, she reveals her core shyness, crafting lyrics and music to channel feelings and tell stories that might otherwise remain hidden. If her acoustic pop/folk songs (with some well-placed country string pulls) can be defined with a single word, it’s warmth. She finds it romance, family … More Émilie Janvier

Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Yiddish is often discussed in before-and-after terms. As a language of daily life it barely survived the Holocaust, and postwar Jewish migration led to further decline. So when the Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg decided she wanted to perform in a language that hadn’t been spoken in her family for generations, it was less an exercise in adult education than in resurrection. There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more … More Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

François Léveillée: La part des anges

When cognac ages, the elusive portion that evaporates is called the angels’ share (La part des anges). As François Léveillée—humorist, singer-songwriter, author, director and beloved fixture of Québec culture—has aged, he has developed a potent formula of comedy and music. “I can take an audience to one place with humor and somewhere else entirely with a song,” he observes. While the love songs from his latest album (French chanson, folk … More François Léveillée: La part des anges

Claire Lynch: North By South

Among Claire Lynch’s many talents is an uncanny ability to embody a man’s song—her angelic voice not imitating the opposite sex but simply erasing the importance of gender. She memorably personified a Civil War soldier in Kennesaw Line and on her latest album she’s a deckhand-turned-ship’s captain who spends 50 years with the love of his life, the Molly May (video 1). The song—written by J.P. and Gervais Cormier—is bittersweet, like any story … More Claire Lynch: North By South

2 Frères: Nous Autres

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 age hungry for authenticity. They are at their most innocent and nostalgic in the record-store romance 33 tours … More 2 Frères: Nous Autres

Sophie Tapie: Sauvage

When Sophie Tapie appeared on The Voice/France she wanted to perform songs by Johnny Cash but bowed to warnings of how French viewers might vote; she did Bruno Mars and Johnny Hallyday instead. Lesson learned, when the time came to record her first album she ditched Paris for the place where French and country go together as comfortably as tailgates and moonlight—Québec. The result of that journey is Sauvage (Wild), one of … More Sophie Tapie: Sauvage

Le Vent du Nord: Têtu

If you associate the North Wind only with cold air, open your ears. Le Vent du Nord, the four-man vanguard of the Québec folk scene, offers the sounds of melodeon and hurdy-gurdy, assorted strings (violin, bouzouki, guitar), rhythmic foot-stomping and stirring vocal harmonies. Têtu (Headstrong), the band’s eighth album, is a dazzling 15-track collection of original and traditional songs at turns rollicking and sad, fanciful and forlorn … More Le Vent du Nord: Têtu