Tracks : 11
Horizons is the latest album from Acadian/Celtic trio, Vishten who are celebrating 15 years together. Including sisters Emmanuelle and Pastel LeBlanc from PEI and Pascal Miousse from the Magdalene Islands, Vishten are one of the most respected bands on the International folk scene and this album shows them at their absolute best.
The album opens with Elle Tempete , a thumping track which shows off all aspects of the band. The urgent opening percussion is followed by a cracking fiddle intro that leads into the song. The vocals are clear and strident and the stormy feel of the melody fits the theme perfectly.
The instrumental, J'aime vraiment ton accent (I Really Like Your Accent), is next and its piano led opening is swiftly joined by the fiddle as the tune builds. It is a real toe-tapper and carries you along on a river of fine musicianship. Fiddle, piano and accordion all take their turns at leading while the middle part is a surprising interlude which then re-builds slowly as the main theme kicks in once again. It develops back into its driving best and the finish is very inventive. It is a lovely, fun piece of music.
Fleur du Souvenir (Flower of Remembrance) is a piece which my limited French cannot do justice too. It is a lovely song which drives along at a pace with some fine backing. The electric piano in the middle is excellent and some fine jaw harp work is prevalent throughout this sparkling track.
Some good country-style fiddling opens the next track, L’ Hermite (The Hermit). It is another song with a beautiful vocal and is probably my favourite song on the album.
Les Sirènes à Roméo (The Sirens to Romeo) opens with a subtle piano and guitar section before the whistle picks up the main melody. The whistle then takes on the counter-melody as the piano and guitar pick up the theme of this gorgeous instrumental piece. There is more sublime whistle work as the tune comes to a beautiful end. There is a return to the great fiddle and whistle playing on the jaunty title track, Horizons, which cracks along before dropping into a minor key for the middle section and then building to an impressive finish.
The first single to be released from the album, Bi Bi Box is next and it has a more modern feel with some funky guitar and electric piano. There is also a beautiful, low-key vocal arrangement and some nice accordion work on this tale of a message in a bottle which brings hope to a lonely heart.
The Cajun song, Les Clefs de la Prison (The Keys of the Prison) has another jaunty upbeat melody over what I believe are rather darker sentiments in the lyric about a prisoner facing the death penalty. The vocal is once again faultless with some lovely harmony work and it is all carried along by the always fine percussion. Le Miracule (The Miracle) is a fast paced accordion-led tune that gets the feet tapping from the opening bars. After some very effective, slightly discordant counter melody, the fiddle takes over as the tune whips along. Some more top class accordion work leads to a glorious and raucous all-in finish.
The album finishes with two tracks that take a different route. L'Autre Femme (The Other Woman) has a broodingly dark feel with some nice electric guitar work, moody vocals and suitably saturnine instrumental breaks. The closing track, Amer Souers (Soul Mates) is a simply gorgeous, atmospheric tune with some highly effective dum-diddley-dum vocals. It is a piece that sends chills down the spine and has a magical feel. Described as an anthem to sisterhood, it is a lovely, earthy track and is a great way to end the album.
Horizons is an album of great music, performed with skill and panache. From the thumping opening of Elle Tempete to the gorgeous closing track, Amer Souers, it never dips in quality and it is an album that I will listen to many, many times.