Various - Putumayo Presents Quebec

2008-10-02 15:54
Quebec people speak French with a funny accent, and you do get the feeling, listening to this compilation, that you’re looking in on something from the outside, and that even music's universal language can't quite explain why you should be interested in what’s going on.

The tracks on this compilation vary, from medium-paced modern folk-feel numbers with existential rather than political themes like Mathieu Mathieu’s "Cette Ville", to the moodier sophistication of numbers like "Je m'Demande", by Morricone-schooled composer/singer Martin Leon. There’s also plenty of lovesick camped-up French-style pop filler.
Indigenous Quebecois musicians also feature (but only three of them). Florent Vollant’s Dire Straights-style blues which belies his origins, although his lyrics are in his home language of Montagnais. There’s also an irritating track about an old guy spading a teenager, from the inexplicably highly-regarded La Bottine Souriante, who're described in the liner notes as being considered "…one of the worlds best live bands."

The album closes with Le Vent Du Nord, a traditional outfit. Unless you’re a big fan of fiddling, squeeze boxes and hey-nonny-noh sing-along folksy ditties, "Vive L’Amour" is about as attractive as fly buzzing around trying to land on your lips.

Sure, it’s a matter of taste. So let’s try sum up the vibe of this compilation for those who actually like very traditional sounds? Perhaps it could be described as French music with a strong dose of suburban hippie tossed in - a pleasant enough educational excursion, but not exactly packed with musical revelations.

The Cider and Rosemary Lamb Shanks recipe provided in the liner notes DOES sound promising, though.

- Jean Barker

This Putumayo musical cash-in on Quebec City’s 400th anniversary has a cutesy-poo cover showing a few Quebecoise in front of a building looking lyrical. The music inside varies from (mostly) pleasant to (occasionally) annoying.

What to read next: Kalahari

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.