Roch Voisine

California: Americana, Vol. 3

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His third album in as many years to tackle the classic U.S. sounds of the '60s, California: Americana, Vol. 3 sees Canadian-Acadian vocalist Roch Voisine abandon the old-school rock & roll and Nashville country of its predecessors in favor of nine of the flower power movement's defining folk-pop hits. Recorded in California itself, the 2010 installment of the successful series pays homage to the state's musical heritage, with faithful performances of the Byrds' Book of Ecclesiastes-inspired "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)," Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross," and the Monkees' Neil Diamond-penned "I'm a Believer," alongside both English and bilingual versions of Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco" and the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'." Produced by Chad Carlson (Taylor Swift), Voisine's bittersweet melancholic tones, which sound like they've been stuck in a time warp since the Woodstock era, are perfectly suited to the desert-drenched acoustics of America's "A Horse with No Name" and the gentle pastoral folk of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." But apart from the slightly bluesy reworking of Simon & Garfunkel's The Graduate classic "Mrs. Robinson" and the flashes of sitars and saxophones on the two English/French tracks, he fails to put his own stamp on the proceedings, while the overbearing string section on "God Only Knows" renders the Beach Boys' masterpiece slightly schmaltzy. Five years on from his last batch of original compositions (Sauf Si l'Amour) and Voisine appears content to maintain his retro tribute act, but as affectionate and respectful as these renditions are, their lack of creative spark suggests he might be better moving on to another decade next time round.

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