Éric Lapointe

Le Ciel de Mes Combats

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Lapointe's sixth studio record is composed exclusively of rock clichés, but still delivers, because in his case it's not lack of musical pluck or inventiveness: he simply has so much power and charisma that he doesn't need any ornamentation to boost the effect. Chances are, he would still rock even reading a grocery list over a kazoo, so when he's backed by meaty guitars, a brass section, and dramatic string flourishes, there's just no resisting his allure. If Lapointe's hard-boiled rasp has any comparisons in the contemporary musical world, it would be the vocals of folk-metal greats In Extremo -- Germans, of all people. But Ciel de Mes Combats is not really metal: it's stripped-down mainstream rock tinged with rockabilly, but mostly rooted in the music of the '70s, when the riffs were already full of adrenaline but not yet stripped of their blues influence or strained by stylistic constraints (including spandex leggings). Lapointe inhabits the space between Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf, and Aerosmith, but he is even more scorching -- if not necessarily more catchy -- on the straightforward rockers and more larger than life on the epic cuts like "Tu T'Es Laissé Tomber (Marc)" and "Je Suis à Elle," which do indeed sound like metal, but simply due to the sheer amount of ferocity and pomp he infuses them with. The record is rounded up by an acoustic instrumental ("Où Que Tu Sois [Marc]") and some ballads, which are meant as breathers but are also turned into emotional roller coasters by Lapointe's uncontainable roar. Ciel de Mes Combats does proceed in full compliance with old-fashioned rock rules from start to finish, but it's also a rare case when a Francophone musician outrocks the rest of the world.

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