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Gabriel Yacoub
The Simple Things We Said
Prime CD (

cd cover Long a favorite and treasured musician in his native France, Gabriel Yacoub is indeed an artist of the highest caliber. In America, Yacoub has primarily been relegated to cult status, thanks to the brilliant and pioneering French folk-rock he created through the 1970s and '80s with his band Malicorne. With a deft blend of Renaissance harmonies, ancient (and created!) instruments, and studio wizardry Yacoub crafted a body of work with Malicorne that arguably was of more consistent excellence than his English counterparts in Fairport Convention. By the last of Malicorne's albums, Yacoub had presaged the rise of the world music phenomenon, and his production techniques bore enviable comparisons to those of Peter Gabriel.

"Beaute / 12th Song..."
Post-Malicorne, Yacoub has focused on his own solo career. The Simple Things We Said marks the first widely-available Yacoub album in the U.S. since Elementary Level of Faith (Shanachie) in 1987. The Simple Things We Said is an acoustic project that offers some new songs, such as "Dame: Petite Dame" and "Mes Belles Anciennes Compagnes," but primarily this set finds Yacoub mining treasures from his prior solo recordings "Bel," "Quatre," and "Babel." As such, The Simple Things We Said affords American audiences a magnificent opportunity to hear what they have been missing: primarily, Gabriel Yacoub's remarkable, rich, emotive voice, the beauty of which leaves many critics and fans justly floundering for superlatives. Interestingly, Yacoub sings more English on this CD than on others in his past; his version of Richard Shindell's mysterious and foreboding "You Stay Here" is a real highlight. The album is dusky and dark; it is as if Yacoub is reflecting upon his career from within a deep wood. The spare arrangements on the CD primarily strip the songs to a core trio of Yacoub, Nathalie Riviere on violin, and Yannick Hardouin on bass. They shine to great effect on "Beaute/12th Song of the Thunder," managing a dense, trance-like wall of sound to connote the power of the wind. Elsewhere, bassoon, cello, and hurdy-gurdy offer deep, subtle colors that make these new performances timeless. What emerges is a most welcome collection of songs: familiar, classic, and still groundbreaking; all roads leading to the inimitable, enigmatic Yacoub. - Lee Blackstone

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Audio (c)2001 Prime CD and (p)Gabriel Yacoub, and used with their permission

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