Review – “Un bras de distance avec le soleil” – Catherine Leduc

reviewed by Michael Thomas

The “soleil” part of the album title really put me in a cosmic mindset while listening to this album. The touches of synth-y weirdness that inhabit Catherine Leduc’s piano-folk-based arrangements also help to make this feel like a galactic album. But it’s the kind of music you might expect to soundtrack the journey through long stretches of planet-less space. It’s sombre, thoughtful and beautiful.

If you’re a French speaker you’ll really appreciate Leduc’s poetic lyrics, especially when the entire song acts as metaphor. “Tes sommets sont mes montagnes” (your summits are my mountains) positions an entire relationship as one person at sea level and the other at the top. The song is a seven-minute epic which concludes with the one at sea level not knowing whether she’ll ever reach the summit: “Mais je pense que j’aurais le vertige/ Je sais que j’aurais le vertige.”

But even if French isn’t something you’re familiar with, you can appreciate her fine touch on the arrangements. The aforementioned weirdness at times makes the music feel like the second coming of David Bowie, and invites your imagination along for the ride. No song ever feels like a straight folk song or piano ballad, going on numerous twists and turns. “Saison de la grise” (season of grey) is the height of the album’s instrumental achievements, only taking on lyrics for the first half of the album before the second half features an extended mix of pianos and synths.

There’s a lot more vivid imagery to take in, like in “Rien comme le froid” (nothing like the cold), a song about being shocked back to reality. The booming percussion does a great job of putting that shocking cold to music. “Good Eye” is a song that uses mostly the imperative tense, and it’s a kind of creepy contrast to the wobbly synths throughout the song.

More lines to make you think: “Le temps séparés” brings in more creepy keys and effects and features very telling lines: “Nous passerons/En dessous de la table/Nous la mangerons/ Notre soupe froide.” Perhaps the best line is “Tu chantes dans toutes les langues/En même temps.” There’s no one more enigmatic than one who sings in all languages at once.

Whether you’re voyaging through space or inside your own mind, there’s enough weirdness and folk combined to keep you thinking for a long time.

Top Tracks: “Good Eye”; “Saison de la grise”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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