Yann Falquet’s Les Secrets Du Ciel

cover, Les Secrets Du CielGuitarist and singer Yann Falquet steps outside the familiar confines of Genticorum, the Quebecois folk trio in which he has recorded and toured for more than two decades, with a set of traditional songs on Les Secrets Du Ciel. Though it represents a slightly different direction than usually followed by Genticorum, his warm baritone vocals and textured guitar playing still feel familiar and comforting.

Where Genticorum plays trad Quebec folk songs (with modern verve) and contemporary songs in the tradition, Falquet here is exploring songs and tunes from archival documents and taking some liberties with song structures to create a modern sounding record of old music. It’s a collection of mostly dreamy and romantic arrangements, on which he’s joined by Robbie Kuster on drums, Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews on woodwinds, Trent Freeman and Quinn Bachand on strings and Nadje Noorhuis on horns. It becomes in their capable hands, paradoxically, an album of older and more obscure songs than usually played by Genticorum, played in a way that sounds more modern, verging on chamber folk with a Canadian twist.

It’s a beautifully curated and recorded album, all of which brings out the sensitivity of the arrangements. The title track “Les secrets du ciel” (”The Secrets of the Sky”) is an excellent example, with Mathews’ bass clarinet, delicately frailed banjo by guest Allison De Groot, and Kuster’s jazz-influenced brushwork all serving Falquet’s dryly yearning vocal. Likewise the pensive song “Le départ,” which gives us a full verse of solo Falquet on guitar and voice, before he’s joined by a sighing choir of brass and woodwinds. It’s a sad song he’s been performing for several years about a young man having second thoughts about having struck out for the goldfields.

Upbeat tracks are doled out frugally. “Sutherland’s March” is a fully arranged typical Quebecois reel, foot percussion and all, with nice fiddling, more of de Groot’s banjo, and an excellent bass line. And the closer “Courage” gives us some excellent guitar fingerpicking and harmony vocals by Julia Friend.

The cover art deserves mention; the black and white photo of sun, sky and clouds nearly obscured by criss-crossing power poles and lines seems to me a good metaphor for the calming, natural effect of the album’s all acoustic music.

Altogether, Les Secrets Du Ciel is delightful chamber folk. My only mild critique is that it feels a bit hermetic overall; a good strategy for the listener might be to follow it up with a good blast of one of Genticorum’s excellent releases.

(Yann Falquet, 2024)

Albums by Genticorum we’ve reviewed include Nagez Rameurs, La Bibournoise, and in an omnibus, Le Galarneu.

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Gary Whitehouse

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Gary is a retired journalist and government communicator. Since the 1990s he has been covering music, books, food & drink and occasionally films, blogs and podcasts for Green Man Review. His main literary interests for GMR are science fiction, music lore, and food & cooking. A lifelong lover of music, his interests are wide ranging and include folk, folk rock, jazz, Americana, classic country, and roots based music from all over the world. He also enjoys dogs, birding, cooking, craft beer, and coffee.

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