Jolie Vilaine Jardin d'amour
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Jolie Vilaine
Jardin d'amour
Galad, France

cd cover Jolie Vilaine are a new band, but they are not newcomers to the scene: Yann-Fañch Perroches (formerly of the group Skolvan) has been around since the eighties and Véronique Bourjot is well-known all over Brittany for her beautiful voice. Even the other three members of the band - Erwan Bérenguer (a member of the young group Spontus), Vincent Guérin (a collaborator of jazz and Breton bands) and Jean-François Roger (who has collaborated in many jazz settings but is also part of the traditional Breton fest-noz dance band Rozaroun) - are well-known within their own circles.

The impeccable credentials of the band shine through on this recording. The distinctly jazzy vibe brought to the mix by Guérin and Roger and the chanteuse style utilized by Bourjot create an aural environment that is laid-back and pensive, which for a few of the 61 minutes of this record may be a bit too much. Still, taken in moderation, it works miracles, both on the emotional and analytical levels, for this is music of a region in flux. All of these songs are in Gallo, coming from the French-speaking western provinces of Brittany, a region somewhat underrated during the recent Breton musical renaissance. In the early days, the young Gallo musicians would learn Breton and play in bagads - the Breton pipe band. Only recently has the tide turned and now it's the Celtic musicians who revisit the Gallo repertoire and try to make amends, among them Perroches.

If you are looking for the sound produced by this band, you'll find it halfway between traditional French chansons and the traditional Breton material. It's like listening to Breton music sung in French which might seem straightforward but in reality has a rather unnerving feel which works well as a counterpoint to the natural sweetness sometimes associated with the French language.

The band also displays an impeccable professionalism. The graphic design is beautiful. The ladies who gave the songs to the band are always referred to with great respect. The liner notes are helpful, if brief (French in the booklet, and available in translation on the website.) In every detail, this shows the work behind this record, which was almost five years in the making.

If you are interested in all things French, this is certainly the record for you. If you are interested in the Breton musical tradition, this is a chance to see its Cinderella: the Pays Gallo regains its right to feel Breton but speak French and this is an interesting story. If you like jazz, this record offer long hours of concentration as you decipher all the little nuances exhibited in the chord changes. If you are more interested in the wilder, rockier side of the Breton scene (a sub-genre with its own unique history) then you might want to find something with more angst. These musicians have no axes to grind, no rage to express, only love in its many guises. - Nondas Kitsos

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