Saturday, December 20, 2008

MOUSSU T E LEI JOVENTS - Home Sweet Home (Le Chant Du Monde/Harmonia Mundi)

The third album of roots-based Provençal pop from the Marseille trio is as engaging and as accessible as its predecessors.

The truth is that there are probably only three basic song templates by the band formed by former Masilia Sound System founder Tatou - the laid-back, lilting blues-and-reggae-tinted tunes (dare we say chanson?) that begs to be the soundtrack to whichever is the latest Brits-up-sticks-to-France TV documentary; the salty-as-a-seadog sing-along, almost nursery rhyme-like in its simplicity as it bounces along on the jaunty rhythm of Blu’s plucked banjo; and the gruff, electric-guitar led rockier mode that deals with the deeper, serious side of the band’s underlying desire to celebrate the multi-cultural melange of the Mediterranean port. However, there’s mileage yet in these charming, simple arrangements, the melodies keep on coming, delivered in a timeless, languid music-hall style and sung in a mix of French, English and the local, almost defunct, Occitan language. Whichever tongue is chosen, sing-alongs a-plenty are guaranteed, whether it’s the celebratory Ma Rue N’Est Pas Longue, the repetitive weekday recitation of Labour Song or the nostalgia-laced sound of Il Fait Beau, a glorious pre-war seaside promenade of a song and one of the band’s best moments to date. The latter song is filled out with female backing vocals and slide guitar, illustrative of a slight upping of the complexity of arrangements at times, and there’s a more reflective, almost wistful tone in places, too; Desamarra in particular is given a mournful, street-corner feel by the inclusion of plaintive accordion. But in typical fashion, that’s immediately followed by a flighty celebration of the southern city of our hosts, a darker, gruff-voiced number, and then straight back into the smiling, catchy Provençal dish. Another seductive cosmopolitan collection from a consistently likeable bunch.

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