reviewed by Cissy Suen
Possessing one of the most gorgeous vocal timbres, Safia Nolin has garnered the hearts of many with her delicate, yet powerful, voice. Reprises, Vol.1 is particularly special in that the album pays ode to the multitude of Quebecois singers that have inspired the folk singer. From Eric Lapointe to Céline Dion, Nolin adds hopeful and melancholic twists, powered with emotion. She even interprets Marie Carmen’s song “Entre l’ombre et la lumière” with none other than Marie Carmen herself!
Beginning with La Chicane’s “Calvaire”, Nolin emphasizes with pauses and elongated notes au lieu of Boom Desjardin’s original rock crescendos. Like Daughter’s popular take on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, Nolin continues by diluting “D’amour ou d’amitié” with minor chords. The use of these specific notes creates a beautiful contrast from Dion’s wide-ranging vocal 80’s pop track. This technique is also used for the altered ‘Entre l’ombre et la lumière’ to showcase the elegant harmonies between the two vocally unique women. In the jazzy “Laisser l’été avoir 15 ans”, Nolin preserves a similar vocal style to Claude Dubois – it’s Joseph Marchand’s subtle guitar rendition that stands out and soothes in the place of the catchy saxophone.
Nolin possesses the unique ability of preserving the nature of her variations while creating a completely different piece of art. This talent that shines the most in her version of Eric Lapointe’s “Loadé comme un gun”. Unlike her previous adaptations, Nolin’s is much more hopeful than that of the angsty original. A similar exhibition is seen in “Ayoye”, in which the clear strums of Marchand’s guitar perfectly uplifts the soft raspy vocals to soothe and calm.
We return to melancholy in Julie Masse’s song. Although it was originally sombre, Nolin’s prolongation of notes creates an opposition to her brief declaration “C’est zéro” that reflects the underlying conflict of self illustrated in the lyrics. I’m very glad Nolin’s expert interpretations reached as far as the classic Christmas carol of “Le sentier de neige”. Don’t worry, this depiction is not at all sorrowful. I can confirm it’s the key track to play as you’re sipping delicious hot chocolate after a day out in the Canadian cold.
If you fell in love with the beauty that is Nolin’s voice as I did, be sure to check her out at one of her Quebec shows in the new year. She’ll be touring the province from late January to early April, making only one stop outside the province at Kingston’s Octave Theatre. For now, turn on that last track and enjoy the holidays!
Top Tracks: “Calvaire”; “C’est zéro”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*