Recorded after a mammoth tour in 1993-1994, which yielded the live album La Maudite Tournée, Le Chanteur Masqué ("The Masked Singer," a reference to the hockey goalie's mask) features mainly the same musicians. It seems that spending so much time with his old hits gave Robert Charlebois extra inspiration. Much less mainstream, this album focuses on songwriting instead of arrangements and production. In tracks like "Le Vent," "J'Voulais Pas y Aller," and "Une Ville Ordinaire," listeners find the old Charlebois of Solidaritude: funny, touching, memorable. The fact that novelist Réjean Ducharme wrote the lyrics to four of the songs has something to do with it. David McNeil, who wrote the words for "Moins Vieux" on the 1992 Immensément, also contributes good lyrics. The story of "Léonie," set to a South American rhythm, is particularly fun: She's the hottest girl in bed but, "(W)ith her mustache and teeth/She looks like Frank Zappa." Less slick, adult pop, and star-studded than the award-winning Immensément, Le Chanteur Masqué comes back to essentials: strong texts, strong melodies, and a singer who sounds like he believes in what he does. Sadly, this CD went by rather unnoticed with the lack of a hit single. But it represents what many consider to be the "real" Charlebois, much more than the 2001 Doux Sauvage, which was marketed as a "back to roots" album.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture