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Album review: Folk band's music lovely in any language

Of course, it still helps if you speak the language.

“Têtu,” Le Vent Du Nord’s latest release, captures its audience with a traditional style unlike any found in today’s popular music.

The opening track, “Noce tragique,” has an abrupt beginning that quickly draws you in with a steady beat, a repetitive accordion melody and the strong presence of a hurdy-gurdy. When the lead vocalist begins singing, one will be surprised to hear a voice full of timbre in contrast with the light melody. The music complements him beautifully.

Whether or not you speak French, listeners will appreciate the mildly dark sound of “Chaise ardente” after reading the brief English description found in the CD booklet: “Extreme curiosity drives the character to hell, literally, to see what has become of his lover.” The folk artists use more than words to tell their stories. English-bound listeners will find themselves captivated by the harmonies and back-and-forth quartet between the four vocalists.

The booklet, like the vocals, is mainly in French, but all of the songs with lyrics have a small description in English available for those who buy a physical copy of the CD. These descriptions give the impression that this album is a collection of stories told by the band members. If you like tales of tragedy, war and political corruption told in a lovely language, this is definitely the album for you.

The lilting accents and epic fables present in the vocals are not the only qualities that make this album a must-have for folk fans. The instrumentals are perhaps the most emotional songs on the album. Each track easily manipulates the feelings of listeners. “D’ouest en est” has a light-hearted feel that will make listeners want to put on geek garb and head on down to the nearest Renaissance fair to dance. “Petit rêve IX” is a much slower, heart-wrenching piece. Listening to this song will bring images of fallen comrades to mind. This short, emotional piece has no lyrics, but the melody is enough to bring tears to one’s eyes.

While “Petit rêve IX” is the best track on the album, “La marche des Iroquois” is a close second. Listeners will find this track more relatable because there is chanting, but no lyrics that non-French speakers can’t learn or follow. This epic composition may make one feel as if they are marching to war for the ultimate battle.

After listening to Le Vent Du Nord’s eighth record three times, this critic can whole-heartedly say that there are no major flaws in this work. The transitions are excellent, the harmonies are flawless, and the music is charming and intriguing. I have no complaints.

It is a true testament to a musician’s talent to be able to capture the heart of listeners who have no idea what he or she is saying. For traditional music fans and French majors alike, “Têtu” is a must-have for your music collection.

Skylar Griego is a culture reporter and music reviewer for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo.

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