Le sens de la dérive, the first full-length from Monsieur Raph – Raphaël Delahaye, more formally – starts with delicate guitar chords; the percussion that quickly joins in places things in a Latin zone. In a voice with distinctive vibratos and Mathieu Chédid-class highs, Monsieur Raph then makes this request: “Kiss the moon for me / The day you settle there / I who do not pretend / To something other than the Earth”.
A young Montrealer of French origin with a traveller’s temperament, fond of Latin and West African sounds, Mr. Raph is no graduate of the Bernard Lavilliers Institute of Errancy : no switchblade streetfights or other perilous tales in his verses. An apostle of the humanist song, Monsieur Raph uses peaceful metaphors instead.
In the migratory department, Raph has been a regular visitor to festivals and other musical events: Granby, Vue sur la relève, Francofolies de Montréal, Petite-Vallée, Ma Première Place des arts and Nuits d’Afrique, among others, as well as artistic residencies in Colombia and New Brunswick. He released an EP entitled NU in 2017.
Three years later, supported by skilled instrumentalists including Guido Del Fabbro, who also wrote the brass and string arrangements, Raph delivers an opus with edifying textures and texts. “Km zéro” rekindles a distant memory of the refrains of a Jean Leloup in his twenties. “Yovo” and “Esperanza” evoke Mali. An aesthetic filiation with Mehdi Cayenne is evident. The too-short “Le cœur parle une autre langue”, with Quebecois-Mexican singer Noemi Lira, is irresistible in its bewitchment. All this leads us to believe that Monsieur Raph’s transatlantic folk has a bright future ahead of it.