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Album Review

Richard Desjardins, well into his career, put together L'Existoire as something of a throwback to earlier musical styles and his own musical history, whether intentional or not. The album starts out on solo piano, letting him chant along with his own plunkings as something of a deep chanson. As it progresses, he dabbles in Celtic ideas, sea shanties, dark sax-filled blues, and more. There's Appalachian-styled banjo picking in "Développement Durable," and a bit of Spanish flamenco guitar in the title track. Over the top of his wildly varying styles, Desjardins speaks out his lines in a style that just slightly changes to meet the mood of the individual pieces. It's a so-so fit from song to song as a result — at times, his additions, his emotions, his accent itself fit into a dark and thoughtful piece perfectly. At other times, his emotional and dark accent just lays over the top of a rollicking banjo reel. There's potential here, and Desjardins should be applauded for trying out so many styles in a single set, but only some are able to shine through.


Born: 1948 in Abitibi, Quebec, Canada

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s

A singer/songwriter in the tradition of Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen, Richard Desjardins spent two-thirds of his career as an unknown and ignored musician, first with his group Abbittibbi and later as a solo artist. In 1990, his second album, Tu M'Aimes-Tu, propelled him to the forefront of intelligent French chanson. His activism for Quebec's independence and in defense of the poor and abused gave him the aura of a controversial figure. Desjardins was born 1948 in Rouyn-Noranda, a mining town...
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L'existoire, Richard Desjardins
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