Jacques Labouchere - 'Piece'
There is a huge range of new albums being released this week, so much so that we're tempted to declare today as an official Nordic Music Bank Holiday just so that you can all stay at home, save money on petrol and public transport, and spend the day listening to and buying new music instead. Amongst the releases we're delighted to welcome Jacques Labouchere's album entitled 'Piece', which is a lovely treasure trove of interesting and sometimes quirky psychedelic folk tracks, all with interesting lyrics.
We have written about Jacques Labouchere before, and (in a particularly rubbish anecdote) even almost got to see him live at the much missed Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester last year, but just ended up going on the wrong day. Connecticut born, he qualifies for Nordic Music status on account of his long term residency in Gothenburg, and his previous albums 'Jacques Labouchere' and the brilliantly named 'BI-polar Baby Strollers' are well worth checking out.
His American roots are referenced in the track 'Call Me Connecticut', with complex guitar lines layered upon each other, and there are both folk and country influences evident. But for me the album really starts to appeal with the track 'Straight to the Graveyard', where lyrically Jacques Labouchere really starts to get underneath the skin - ''We 'aint got it in us to face the outside, so we sit in filth and wilt, and go further down the line each time. After the likeable instrumental interlude 'Caravan' we're offered 'Its Not What You Think', a really beautiful song, with cello offering a melancholy accompaniment and a soothing melody which opens out into an almost jaunty pop track, before a return to the thoughtful vocal theme contemplating a fairly straight forward subject matter about what equates to love.
'Do What You Want' has a quirky melodic theme that reminds me that something the mercurial William D Drake would write, and again the precision in the vocal delivery of the lyrics brings them to the fore: Open your eyes, close them if not to dream, when you lift up your head from the flashing screens'. This type of psychedelic folk with interesting lyrics really shows Jacques Labouchere at his best. It continues with Royal Winchester Wind, where he returns to the traditional storyteller style that I like so much with this type of songwriting, and there's a lovely lilting quality to the chorus. 'Let It Out' lyrically has more of a reassuring feel, almost as if he is offering 'self help' therapy: 'If it don't feel good then why you doing it, if you don't do it for yourself then its bad for your health'. The album ends with the contemplative 'Utøya', written about the Island in Norway which was the scene of the Anders Breivik attacks.
This is an album which definitely takes some listening to. But there is a subtlety in the writing and the lyrics which I've really grown to like, and the precision in the lyrical delivery makes them central to the success of the album. Jacques Labouchere is a songwriter who seems happy to do his own thing, writing songs about anything and everything, and always in a soft laid back style that is heart warming and never confrontational. There is a musical diversity too, from the classic acoustic guitar based strains of 'Royal Winchester Wind' to the likes of 'Do What You Want', and whilst clearly not packed with radio 'hits', 'Piece' is clearly an album for real musical lovers.
Jacques now heads out on a mammoth tour, which takes in everywhere but the UK unfortunately. However we have readers everywhere so hopefully at least someone can get to see him somewhere and report back....