Bio (from alg-entertainment.com):
Set during the dirty 30’s “Une Chanson d’Amour” (French for “A Love Song”) is a blues-opera told in 3 acts and 13 songs, telling the legendary tale of bluesman Amadeo L. Gauthier and his rise to stardom as blues-poet extraordinaire. Spanning a period of 10 years (from 1927 to 1937) this story chronicles the events leading upto Amadeo L. Gauthier’s release from a southern chain-gang and the début of his masterpiece “Une Chanson d’Amour” itself, telling his story of a murder in a Parisian speakeasy, an enduring quest for freedom, a dangerous deal made with the Devil at a Crossroads in Mississippi, and his eventual lost love and triumphant though embittered rise to fame.
Amadeo L. Gauthier (Composer / Lead Male Vocalist), Erika Dyer (Lead Female Vocalist), Tom “The Suit” Forst (Lead Guitarist), Menno Gootjes (Keys, Guitar), Jim Russo (Drums)
I have to say right up front, blues and jazz are not genres I listen to very often. Not that I dislike them, it’s just not something I usually go looking for, and I don’t have a whole lot of it in my collection. I’ve got some Janis Joplin, some Thelonious Monk, some Mingus, some of this and some of that; just not a whole lot of anything in this style. So UNE CHANSON D’AMOUR was a bit different of a listen for me. I am a big fan of concept albums, as I love the amount of work and craft that goes into making an album that is essentially one big story, so the fact that UCdA was a “blues-opera” intrigued me.
Opening with “Baby, Get Your Gun!” I was immediately drawn into UCdA. The opening few seconds worried me, as they sounded almost new-age synth driven cheese, but once the full piano driven riff kicks in, I started to enjoy what I was listening to. The song builds, and then Gauthier’s voice comes in; I get some Tom Waits or maybe Bruce Springsteen after a pack of smokes from his voice. It’s a rough, gravely, but controlled tone that fits the style of the music, and the content of the story quite well. I don’t want this to be misunderstood that he has a bad voice: he doesn’t. As a matter of fact, he’s got a really good voice, with good control and power behind it, it’s the tone of his voice that makes me think, well, “speakeasy,” which is about perfect for this story. The story is detailed in the bio above; some I’m not going to break it down, but it is an interesting listen for sure. I would have loved to have also received the book that goes with the album; UCdA is available with an accompanying book that “detail[s] the story behind each song,” and I think that having that accompaniment would only add to the emotional impact of the album.
Musically, I enjoyed UCdA a lot. I wasn’t in love with every track – there are more hits than misses – but I really enjoyed the overall feel of the album, and there are a few tracks that I really, really dug. The workingman’s chant feel to “The United States of Jazz” really resonated with me, as well as the fact that Gauthier threw in a little scatting which is always fun to hear. Also of special note were groove of “Maggie Le Fay” as well as the beautiful duet on “When the Winds Changed,” which I found notable for both the male / female aspect, and the accompaniment of such a pretty guitar line. There were a few tracks that didn’t do as much for me, especially “Heaven Made,” which has really good lyrics but a guitar line that kinda put me to sleep, only to be abruptly woken by Gauthier’s over-the-top vocal delivery. This track really does show off the power of his voice, but it was too much for me. “Walking With the Devil” I enjoyed musically, but I was a little let down by the old trope of meeting the devil at the crossroads…
Overall I enjoyed UCdA. It was a bit out of my comfort zone style-wise, to the point that I didn’t have a lot of catalogue to base my feelings on, but I did know that I liked what I heard. The lyrics on UCdA are really good with some moments that are outstanding, it tells an interesting story, the music is masterfully performed, and the recording quality is amazing. While this is a self-released album, it can sit on the shelf next to anything on a major record label and give it a run for its money. Very nicely done.
Overall 7 / 10
UCdA for sale: http://www.alg-entertainment.com/shop.html
UCdA site: http://www.alg-entertainment.com/