Words by Tim Woodall
Having released seven records during their ten years together, Le Vent du Nord are clearly not short of inspiration. The Québec quartet’s infectious take on French-Canadian roots music has brought them worldwide attention and Tromper le Temps finds them riding the crest of a wave.
The band’s signature approach is to combine traditional lyrics or subjects with newly composed – and catchy – melodies and foot-stomping reels. Violin, accordion, guitar and hurdy-gurdy make up the group’s core sound but each member plays multiple instruments and all sing. Indeed, their use of call-and-response vocals is one of this album’s greatest joys, giving their tunes a feeling of warmth and camaraderie. Examples include ‘Toujours Amants’, a Shetland-style fiddle and accordion tune with a lovely walking bass in the piano part, and ‘Le Souhait’, a jaunty song of love. Not all the lyrics on Tromper le Temps are about love, loss and legend though. The opening track, ‘Lettre à Durham’, takes aim at the British general who suggested that French-Canadians be assimilated in the mid-19th century while another tune rails against a modern political issue, the mining of shale gas.
Whatever the subject matter, Le Vent du Nord’s musicianship is from the top draw throughout and the tunes are nearly all memorable. Just a couple of the later, slower songs don’t quite stand up next to the Celtic whirl of the dances but in the main, Tromper le Temps is an inspired disc.