By Tim Woodall
Québécois quartet Le Vent du Nord really hit home with Tromper Le Temps in 2012, a punchy set of flying reels, hearty call-and-response singing and, most importantly, cracking tunes. Happily Têtu (Headstrong) picks up where its predecessor left off. The songs just fly past, concerning love, folklore, politics and the celebration of Francophone culture in particular, as on ‘Confédération’. What stands out about the music of this band of longstanding is its power and vitality. Each member sings very well and when three of them answer the fourth with a distinctively fragrant vibrato, the songs soar.
Their playing is equal to the vocals, however, and they tear into each dance. Accordion, guitar and whirring hurdy-gurdy form the key instrumentation but each member adds to the sound, with a range of instruments from bouzouki and mandolin to Réjean Brunet’s pinging, disruptive Jew’s harp. Olivier Demers’ driving fiddle and foot-tapping is particularly propulsive on the raw and fierce ‘Cardeuse – Reipoel’. Le Vent du Nord can do soft and gentle too, as they show with ‘Pauvre Enfant’, a mournful but still somehow uplifting ballad, with the band supported by a string quartet. Québec couldn’t hope for better advocates of its folk music.