Red House Records Inc.
PO Box 4044
St. Paul MN 55104
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jamie O'Brien
If ever there was a case for bilingualism, Hart-Rouge is it. Two languages enable this Quebec-based five-piece band to reach into two cultures, widening horizons for themselves and for their listeners. "Beaupre's Home," their first US release and their first CD on Red House Records, features 13 songs ranging from traditional to contemporary, in English and French along with a track in Spanish and another in Mic Mac (a Native American tribe in Canada and the language they speak).
The group grew out of a Saskatchewan family. By 1988, they had adopted the present name and have since released six albums. Currently, they feature singing siblings Paul Campagne (guitars, bass and fiddle) and his sisters Suzanne and Michelle (guitar and accordion) with percussionist Michel Dupire and multi-instrumentalist and singer Davy Gallant.
The album opens with a bang as they hit you with driving percussion, hand claps and strong vocals on the English-French Destination. This sets the tone for what follows. Hart-Rouge, if nothing else, is alive. They write much of their own material, arrange traditional pieces and perform songs of American and Canadian writers; a good diversity of sources.
Vocally, they possess a magic occasionally found in families where distinct separate voices meld into almost a single sound. Yet the character in the individual vocal work still stands out; whether it is Paul who serenades and rocks depending on the mood, unlike Suzanne who is husky and warm, or the fiery and emotional Michelle. Meanwhile, the band relies instrumentally very much on Dupire's rhythm and the colorful diversity of Gallant.
It is the kind of album that defies categorization. There are touches of country, Cajun, folk... Arrangements are varied, never relying on any particular sound, but there is great continuity on the well-produced recording as it flows easily across the genres. There always seems to be something more to listen to. I can hardly stop playing it.
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Edited by Cynthia A. Harney