Maybe we’re partial because we are fans of the violin or maybe it’s because the SITH headquarters is home to a violinist who is always playing reels and hymns. Either way, Territoires, the latest album by Quebec folk collective Le Vent du Nord is one of our favorite albums of the year.
The folk collective are armed with two violins, an accordion, upright bass, bouzoki and a hurdy-gurdy. That alone is worth the listen, but the songs themselves are absolutely worth the investment. Whether its the placid piano-laden ballad “Le Soir Arrive” or the rousing “Cotillon du Capitaine,” the band’s musicianship is sterling and the four-pronged vocals are simply arresting.
Le Vent du Nord utilizes a bevy of call and response vocals and nowhere is that more pronounced than in the sprite and buoyant “Le Jardinier.” Of all the songs on Territories “Le Jardinier” is the most accessible, digestible and playlist-friendly. Four of the 13 songs on Territories are instrumentals and of the four, three stand out. Album closer “Cote-Nord” is adorned with a beautiful arrangement and is equal parts timeless and cinematic. Ditto for the gorgeous lullaby “Turiuute a Bassinette.” Easily the most kinetic is the hip-shaking, beer-swilling frolic that is “La Step a Alexis,” a nod to one of the bandmember’s antic toddler.
Though much of the album is cover material, the songs themselves are still rich and luxuriant. Nowhere is that more felt than on the gorgeous “Louisbourg,” a sterling vocal a capella effort featuring all four vocalists at their absolute best. From start to finish Territoires is authentic roots music delivered with purpose, poise and passion. If there’s a better non-English vocal album released so far this year, we have yet to hear it.
Time to go eat a baguette!