La Talvera - Solelh Solelhaire
Singer/instrumentalist Céline Ricard and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Loddo form the heart of La Talvera, one of the emblematic folk/world/roots entities of Occitania, a community stretching from Northern Spain to Northwestern Italy.
While perhaps 15 million people across this swath of Europe – primarily in Southern France --- speak or understand a form of Occitan, it remains officially unrecognized in much of this region, especially its heart in the French republic.
With such official neglect, it is left to the poets and musicians to maintain the status and vibrancy of Occitan. In this effort -- through its more than a dozen recordings over 20 years -- this group originating in the Languedoc has built a musical home base, through its many recordings and collaborations. In recent years, La Talvera has explored new ground with a disc of children's songs and a forro-influenced disc.
The theme this time is Solhelh Solelhaire - roughly "O bright sun" – which is of course the bright sun of Occitania, as opposed to the cold and cloud of the economically dominant north of France. “O bright sun that warms the skin/and the heart of the poet with no blanket or coat.”
In La Talvera's world view, it is poets and musicians, not politicians who have and who will preserve this culture and language of the troubadours. This disc is another step in the building of this Occitan vision. With 15 tracks and more than an hour of music, La Talvera showcases Daniel Loddo's multi-instrumentalism, his able tunesmithing, and his prolific versifying in Occitan.
The album's 15 tracks are characterized by Loddo's tuneful melodies and extensive lyrics. “Lo testament del pòrc“ is a tall tale describing what parts the pig will leave to each member of the community, the notary, the lawyer, and so on. It's jazzy shuffle is followed by “Las Drollas d'Occitània" (The Girls of Occitania); a waltz with a lively melody that, with a different arrangement, would not be out of place in Brahms' Hungarian Dances.
"Lo testament del pòrc"
While Ricard's quirky and yet passionate voice might sometimes seem unlikely voice of a people, she particularly excels in duets with frequent collaborators such as Silvèrio Pessoa on “Minha Ciranda” and Aelis Loddo, on the lovely ballad, “Voli Cap Morir.” “I don't want to die, you know, without seeing the ocean lick the lips of the roc d'Anglars, and the Vaour, like an animal lamenting its fate.”
"Voli Cap Morir"
Daniel Loddo Is a master tunesmith as well as instrumentalist. His melodies on this disc are both memorable and hummable, as well as being varied and interesting. While a variety of musical styles are explored, the signature is a blend of Brazilian forró and zydeco, such as on “Sens tu” and “De qué fason aquí?" (What are they doing here?), with their bright, sprighly melodies and Ricard's sharp vocal. “Son de Bandits” (They are bandits) is another fine duet featuring the two women, Aelis Loddo and Ricard, but lyrically, it is an almost cynical political commentary, and ends the disc.
"Son de Bandits"
In addition to the Brazilian sounds, Maghrebian influences turn up on “Las tretze lunas” (The Three Moons). “Tell me again of the year of the thirteen moons, when each night invented a new star; shining everywhere pearls in the fog, enveloping us in a golden smile.” The theme of Occitania is revisited on “Al pais Albiges." As Ricard sings “When you come one day to these Albigensian lands, leave the road which runs straight ahead. … and you will see on the plain, the red hair of the homes, shining like deep red grapes.”
Main writer of both music and lyrics, Daniel Loddo sings and contributes accordion, pipes (craba), reeds, percussions, banjo, and more. The rest of La Talvera is Fabrice Rougier (clarinets and saxes), Sergio Saraniche dit Peon (guitars and bass), Serge Cabau (various percussion), and Tony Canton who plays violin on “Las Drollas d'Occitania.”
"Las Drollas d'Occitania"
Historically, La Talvera's best known and most poignant songs, such as “Lo Meu país” and “Ciutadans de la Tèrre Entière” are anthems to the Occitan lands. And while I'm not sure anything here is of that quality, there certainly is enough quantity and variety here to satisfy the band's many followers, across the Occitan lands and elsewhere. - David Cox
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