Chansons pour les Mois d'Hiver, the eighth studio album by Isabelle Boulay, is a collection of wintertime songs performed in a spare, country-folk style. Make no mistake, this isn't a Christmas album. It isn't a holiday album either. The closest Chansons pour les Mois d'Hiver comes to Christmas music is the album-closing rendition of Robert Charlebois' "Marie-Noël." Moreover, few of the songs have any clear relation to winter. Yet the spirit of the album is wintry, evoking the season as experienced in Canada, where the nights are long, the climate is frigid, and the outdoors are snow-covered. Boulay captures this spirit well on Chansons pour les Mois d'Hiver. It's a comforting album for the coldest season. Produced by Marc Pérusse, the music is so gentle and Boulay's vocals so soothing, Chansons pour les Mois d'Hiver plays like a lullaby. Chief among the many highlights is the title track, an original song penned by Steve Marin. The remainder of the album is comprised of cover songs of Canadian and French origin in general, most notably Françoise Hardy's "L'Amitié," Francis Cabrel's "Hors-Saison," Julien Clerc's "Le Patineur," and Jean-Pierre Ferland's "Je Reviens Chez Nous." Another standout worthy of special mention is the epic "Ballade du Chien-Loup," a French-language adaptation of Leonard Cohen's "Ballad of the Absent Mare." Also worthy of special mention is the album's sole English-language performance, the age-old American country music standard "Tennessee Waltz." Sequenced toward the end of the album, it's an odd inclusion that's nonetheless a beautiful performance graced with touches of steel guitar. There's a lot to like about Chansons pour les Mois d'Hiver. It's liable to be overlooked by some as a run-of-the-mill holiday album because of its title. Others might overlook it because of its emphasis on cover material. It's certainly not one of Boulay's more commercially oriented efforts. All the same, it's an excellent album that all fans will want to hear. There's a lot of Boulay in this special album, without a doubt, as it's among her most intimate and heartfelt releases to date.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier