Le Vent du Nord

Les Amants du Saint-Laurent

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The fiddle tunes that come from Quebec clearly have many of the same antecedents (England, Ireland, Scotland) as those that are found in Cape Breton and the American South. But they have a unique flavor as well, probably thanks to the French influence -- a sweet but melancholy character that makes them especially attractive. And the Quebecois tradition of unison call-and-response singing is also unusual among North American vernacular styles and lots of fun. Le Vent du Nord is now (since La Bottine Souriante acquired a horn section and went all Memphis on us) the most exciting exponent of both aspects of the Quebecois musical tradition, and the quartet's second album is just as good as its first. Lead vocalist and hurdy-gurdy player Nicolas Boulerice has one of the most pleasing voices in Canadian folk music, and guitarist Simon Beaudry is also a very strong singer; fiddler Olivier Demers shows himself also to be a guitarist of rare taste and artistry on his original composition "Du Haut du Balcon," and accordionist Benoit Bourque anchors the band's sound throughout with elegance and panache. Highlights on their second album include the title track (with its tight vocal harmonies) and the sly "C'Est une Jeune Mariée," as well as the gently rollicking jig set "Gigue à Trois." Very strongly recommended.

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