reviewed by Cissy Suen
From the moment she first sang ‘Quand on a du l’amour‘ in the 2013 auditions for The Voice, 24-year old Alexe Gaudreault captivated Quebec and the francophone community with her powerful voice. Although the young woman from Dolbeau-Mistassini did not win the competition, she went on to release her self-titled album earlier in May to large positive reception. Mastered by Tom Coyne who also did work on Adele’s 21, Taylor Swift’s 1989, and Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, the piano based turned electro album is nothing short but heavenly and triumphant.
With “Prélude”, Alexe introduces us to the sound she’s produced independently in the three years following her experience on The Voice. It’s not a typical pop sound so to speak; Gaudreault’s use of drumpads, harmonizing echoes, and graceful manipulation of voice differentiates her into the blurred line of prog pop. I described the album as triumphant, not only for it’s unique instrumentation, but also for the dynamic passion behind the lyrics. In Mirage, Gaudreault rolls off the crescendo of “Prélude” to paint a stunning image of deception, the clutches of which she must distance herself from and escape. In the second track, “Couleurs,” she explodes with the line “tu peux voir mes couleurs” against a heavy and suffocating force, brilliantly translated into music by the steady drum beat.
The album also features singles “Placebo” and “Éclat”. Cowritten with multi instrumentalist John Nathaniel and lyricist Mariane Cassette-Bacon, “Placebo” was the first song by an independent artist to place #1 on the Canadian Nielsen BDS charts in 15 years and there it stayed for seven weeks. With good reason, as the track isn’t just a feel-good song, but a truly philosophical ode to the happiness of naivety. It features a heavy process of realization, acceptance, then recommencement – all to catchy hand claps. “Éclat” is an inspirational piece which speaks about overcoming past difficulties and fears to shine, or should I say, pour vous éclatez! Its message is reflected in the music as the tempo picks up and the heavier beats and bass descend into the chorus.
One of my favourite tracks on the album include the production heavy “Êcho.” It features a dichotomous relationship between the synthesized sounds of the chorus and the organic piano of the verses. It’s a clever musical analogy for the body of the track, as are the resounding vocal projections which left me with a lasting and slightly eerie impression. The music video is extremely elegant with a background steps vaguely reminiscent of the Christine and the Queens album cover.
Gaudreault’s talent as a singer-songwriter has translated beautifully with her debut album. Earning her a spot at the recent Le Festival d’été de Québec and the future late July-August tour across the province. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work and perhaps some exciting collaborations with other francophone artists. If you’re looking to become better versed in francophone, especially Canadian francophone music, Gaudreault’s beautiful voice and music is the perfect segue into le monde du français.
Top Tracks: “Tempête”; “Écho”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*