The music of French Canada has an undeniable joie-de-vivre, a kind of infectious energy born from the slapping ‘tac-tic-a-tac’ of les pieds (a seated form of clogging), the jumping, syncopated fiddle bowing, and the driving force of the button accordion. Or maybe it’s the rowdy drinking songs, or the eerie ancient ballads of medieval France that have lasted for centuries in the New World. Whatever the case, Québécois power trio De Temps Antan have this energy in spades, as they prove on their newest album, Ce Monde Ici-Bas (The World Below). It makes sense that these three artists would have such a powerful sound; each member of De Temps Antan (guitar/singer Éric Beaudry, fiddler/singer André Brunet, accordionist/harmonica player/singer Pierre-Luc Dupuis), was formerly a leader in the massive, multi-platinum Québec folk band La Bottine Souriante and has toured the world over on some the biggest stages. With De Temps Antan, they’ve taken the energy they brought to arena performances and channeled this into a shockingly powerful trio.
On Ce Monde Ici-Bas, De Temps Antan draw from the traditions of Québec, but actively seek to push these traditions to a new place. These musicians are virtuosic performers, and their interpretations of the music of Québec are as much informed by their world travels as by their fieldwork and family ties. The new album incorporates recently written songs like “Refaire le monde (Remake the World)” from Québécois songwriter David Marin, or newly composed instrumental pieces like “Valse St-Sévère” (St. Sévère Waltz)” by fiddler André Brunet. The traditional song of emigration “L’América (America)” gets rebuilt with the help of Louisiana’s star Cajun fiddler/singer Louis Michot (of the Lost Bayou Ramblers). Of course, this being a Québécois album, drinking songs play a large role! The album opens with “Mépriseuse de garçons,” a song which has the great line “I’ve got a bottle on my knee, and I like it a lot better than you.”
Throughout Ce Monde Ici-Bas, De Temps Antan build to powerhouse crescendos, arranging the songs and tunes to sound like a full band. It’s a remarkably diverse album, drenched in the true sounds of French Canada but influenced by each member’s travels and diverse influences. Recorded in Éric Beaudry’s small home village of St-Côme in the heart of Québec, Ce Monde Ici-Bas echoes with the voices that came before De Temps Antan and will surely influence the voices to come after them.
Note: De Temps Antan is pronounced Duh Ta-Zawn-TAWN. The name is a pun meaning “From Time to Time” and also “From the Olden Times.