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Montreal

A Summer's Night

(Stormy Forest; US: 1 Apr 2008; UK: 7 Apr 2008)

The reason this album exists traces back to Richie Havens, the man who single handedly opened Woodstock. He got the Canadian trio of vocalist Fran Losier, guitarist Jean Cousteau, and Gilles Losier on piano and bass into his New York studio with some well-known psych-folk locals, produced their lone record, and released it through his own Stormy Forest label. Havens even contributes a little sitar here and there, but A Summer’s Night doesn’t sound like Richie’s solo albums. Instead of intense acoustic strumming and gruff vocals, the emphasis here is more on head nodding Arlo Guthrie-like folk arrangements and a little lounge jazz. The cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime” even breaks out the old brushes on the drum kit. It’s a very subtle album, one whose depth is not fully revealed ‘til after several listenings. The mood throughout is quite subdued, with Fran’s Nico-ish, occasionally slightly masculine vocals leading the way. “Infinity” is the record’s opus, running its eight minutes through passages sparse and dense, reversed and reverberated, lyrical and emotional. All the pieces come together in that classy raga. However, patience was never a virtue of the American buying public and, in its time, the album sold poorly, contributing the eventual dissolution of Stormy Forest a few years later. Don’t let history repeat itself.  Fairport Convention fans should find this in their collections immediately.

Rating:

Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.


Tagged as: montreal | richie havens
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