Si On Avait Besoin d'une Cinquième Saison

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AllMusic Review by François Couture

Released a year after Harmonium's debut album, Si On Avait Besoin d'une Cinquième Saison (If We Needed a Fifth Season) marked an impressive departure from the guitar trio folk-pop the band first played in cabarets. The first difference is the addition of two new members, reedist/flutist Pierre Daigneault and keyboardist Serge Locat (still no drummer). Second, the album is structured on a concept revolving around seasons, the first four pieces representing each one of them. Third, the fifth piece (or season) is a 17-minute epic suite. This is not folk-rock anymore, but a very personal form of progressive rock rooted in folk (the closest comparison would be early Strawbs). Special care has been put into the arrangements; the song "Dixie," a spirited summer tune, features dozens of instruments coming in and out, topped by Locat's grand piano solo (and the only apparition of percussion on the whole album, a hi-hat hit and a bass drum kick). Songs have gained in length and complexity, the use of Ondes-Martenot waves (courtesy of prog rock band Etcetera's Marie Bernard), mellotron, piano, and flute add another dimension to band's sound and point toward what L'Heptade would be. At the same time, acoustic guitars still provide the backbone of the songs -- but they are not easy-to-learn campfire tunes anymore. Vocalist Judy Richard guests on the beautiful "Histoires Sans Paroles" ("Stories Without Words"), one of Québec's finest progressive rock moments, once again without a single percussion sound. Between the folk simplicity of Harmonium and the symphonic grandeur of L'Heptade, Si On Avait Besoin d'une Cinquième Saison gave the band its unique voice. This remains one of the best transitional albums ever recorded and an essential item in Québec's music history.

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