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CANO - Au Nord de Notre Vie CD (album) cover

AU NORD DE NOTRE VIE

CANO

 

Prog Folk

3.95 | 13 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

While the debut had scored some attention in French-speaking Canada, Cano decided to bring up Rachel Paiement's delicious voice more upfront. Her voice timbre is halfway between Haslam (Renaissance) or Christina (Curved air) and Monique Fauteux (Harmonium) or Christiane Robichaux (Contraction). While still remaining a primarily folk spirit, this album is slightly rockier (and sometimes more fusion) than the debut. Needless to say this album struck the same chord in this writer's soul (and his pack of friends also) and provided a healthy alternative (or counterbalance) to our hard rock leanings (Zep, Priest, Rush) and calmer nights around the campfire when the parents had not unknowingly left us the houses to organize our wild house-parties.

Again as the French title hints, the album is again centered around their Acadian roots, the rough Northern climates and their sheer generous (and hippy) idealism. The artwork is again representative of the (sometimes hostile) nature around them, also. Opening track is a visit to an old Amerindian spirit of the river (Che-Zeebe), and Rachel's superb aerial voice is a pure joy, while the group is developing a great prog rock behind her. With a worthy (but unremarkable dure to the great surrounding tracks) Automne gone by, we find the 11-min mini-suite A La Poursuite Du Nord (from which suite the album title is taken from) and anyone living in mid-Canada, cannot help but experiencing chills down their spine. Rachel's voice with Kendel's piano reminds us the greatest moments of Renaissance (Haslam and Tout), but the track soon evolves in much more than the British group ever had to offer (remember we are dealing with an octet in Cano) into a wild soul-search of the spirit of the north. In New Orleans, this would be equivalent to emotive blues sung by cotton-field workers. Kohut's violin, never very fast (preferring every slow meander it can possibly find) while staying concise, is reminding of JL Ponty's albums of the same years.

The B side of the album starts with the stunning 12-min Mon Pays, which could almost be regarded as an updated version of Gilles Vigneault's timeless anthemic Mon Pays (C'est L' Hiver). After a delicious debut and a more fusion-like follow-up, the middle section almost stops to have the bass sing out with the birds and it slowly brings the track to an almost jazz-rock feeling (again, strangely, Renaissance springs up to mind but the first version of it with Cennamo on bass) with a delicious multi solo section and without warning popping back into the track into a superb finale. Another updated timeless classic is the nursery rhyme Frère Jacques in a stunning rearrangement! Du grand art , Monsieur! Such an album could not close away on anything else than a stunning instrumental, resuming the spirit of the album, and believe this writer, this is one hell of an exit. This 6-min is as delightful as a sunset over a lake in the mid-north, a brew in your hand and the partner in the other.

A stunning but grossly overlooked album (only yelling for the proghead's attention to repair this huge and blatant injustice), clearly Cano had come of age, and their next step would be to start gaining more attention of the English part of Canada with their following Eclipse (which never got a Cd release as did none of their later albums. This album ranks among the very best of the country in the late-70's and there was solid competition. Warmly recommended, especially if you long for Canada.

(About that time for holidays, Hugues ;-)

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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