Leloup's album says 'life is now'
par T'Cha Dunlevy
dans The Gazette, 30 novembre 2002
Rebellious rock hero of Quebec music laboured for months over his latest disc.
Saturday, November 30, 2002
For a guy who likes to keep it simple, Jean Leloup certainly made things hard for himself. The recording of his fifth album, La Vallée des Réputations, was done mostly in live takes, in studio - a choice that made for a more vibrant end product but was far more difficult than anticipated.
Sitting in a Mile End restaurant this week, Leloup explained the torturous but ultimately fruitful process that had him and whoever could keep up labouring for hours, days, weeks in search of the perfect take.
"We threw away a month of studio," he said. "It was no good. It was like looking for the song, but not finding it. After a month, we knew what we wanted, so we redid everything." And even then, it was one song at a time.
Rebellious hero of the Quebec music industry since his induction over a decade ago, rocker Leloup's sound has softened in recent years, but his spirit still runs free.
La Vallée des Réputations comes across as the easy, loose expression of a master singer-songwriter-storyteller in top form. To hear him recount the grueling process of the album's making is to hear how great instincts, in the hands of a perfectionist, make for hard work.
Leloup has always exhibited a flair for the natural. It's what makes him stand out against his more image-conscious peers. It makes his songs the whimsical, life-affirming anthems of young and old alike.
There's a fine line between a good song and a bad one, Leloup said, and between nailing a good one and just missing it.
"If a song is bad, you get tired and you don't play it anymore," he said. "If a song is good, you keep playing it. It's like looking for Eldorado, the take."
He pointed to the new album's opener, Balade à Toronto. "When I got it, I got it - a little bit sad, but edgy. It needs edge. It's not romantic, it's a car song. The guy's in love. Il trippe. He looks at the stars, talks to the girl about living life to its fullest. But you have to feel the edge. C'est pas des petites fleurs. It can't sound romantic; that's not the story. There's no sugar there."
He mentioned Voilà, a frivolous ditty with the chorus, "Je veux te dire que je t'aime, voilà / Je veux te dire que je t'aime, n'importe quoi."
"C'est pas une toune que j'veux bonbon non plus," he said. "I want it edgy, sad, happy, and it has to be tight. We did 30 takes to find a good bassline, the beat, everything."
"Edgy, sad, happy" - Leloup's music lingers in the ether among those adjectives. They are words that describe him as much as his songs. But ultimately, they are attempts to capture a feeling, a nuance, that is subtler and more elusive than words can describe.
His is a world of impulse, of freedom, of romanticism and peril. And it is a world where being true to one's heart is the greatest and bravest of feats.
"In the end, the (album's) theme is 'Life is now,' " Leloup said, falling upon the idea. "La Vallée des Réputations is what is not now. It's like the Cowboy and the Valley of Gossip."
For months this summer, Leloup laboured to bring the songs in his head to life. Not just to life, but to the vibrant life he aspires to, not the flimsy one referred to in the album's title.
"In Balade à Toronto, the guy is saying one day we'll be old, and we'll be really embarrassed if we're poche," Leloup said, "if we're cheap. It's really about what is important and what is not."
La Vallée des Réputations will be in stores Tuesday.
Photo: CREDIT: EQUIPE SPECTRA Jean Leloup's new album is his first in several years.
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