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Americana II

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Album Review

Americana II, otherwise billed as AmerIIcana, is a sequel to Roch Voisine's album from the previous year, Americana (2008), a full-length collection of American country standards that was recorded in Nashville. Sung mostly in English with a few French-language versions appended as bonus tracks, Americana was a big hit in France, where it reached number three on the albums chart. Despite its success, it wasn't a great album. It features standards like "Ring of Fire" and "Crazy" that have been covered a million times over, and worse, the album was produced in a very plain country-pop style without any edge whatsoever. Tellingly, the album wasn't as well received in Voisine's native Canada, where listeners are more accustomed to country music. Nonetheless, Americana was such a big hit abroad — not only in France but also in neighboring Belgium and Switzerland — that it warranted a follow-up sequel specifically oriented toward the European market. Consequently, there are a greater number of French-language versions (five rather than three), and the standards are generally even more middle of the road, favoring country-rock rather than the classic country of the first Americana album. For instance, there are covers of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," the Eagles' "Take It Easy," John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads," Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown," Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman," and Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" — none of these songs categorically country by any stretch of the term. The one country standard found on Americana II is the album opener, Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis." It also happens to be the album highlight. The songs are once again performed straightforwardly with production by Chad Carlson, a Nashville engineer whose credits include Taylor Swift's country-pop mega-hit Fearless (2008).


Born: 26 March 1963 in St. Basile, New Brunswick, Canada

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Though he wrote songs as a teenager, Roch Voisine studied physiotherapy at Canada's University of Ottawa. He began a solo career in 1988, however, releasing his self-titled debut the same year. One year later, Voisine wrote and recorded "Helene" with Stephane Lessard. The single (and following album) was successful in Quebec and France, eventually selling...
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Americana II, Roch Voisine
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