Five years after Maison de bois, Nicolas Boulerice built his Maison de pierres, the second part of a folk triptych, obviously inspired by the famous tale The Three Little Pigs, collected in the 19th century by the British scholar and Shakespearean scholar James Halliwell. A crucial member of the excellent Quebec traditional group Le Vent du Nord, Boulerice performs thirteen laments gleaned on the periphery of the lockdown, in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, where he lives; songs by his grandmother, songs by his girlfriend, songs rediscovered in vintage books or collected by folklorists Jean-Paul Lanoie and Jean-Paul Guimond. The voice of Nicolas Boulerice, a tenor who’s very gifted for chest register, is here frugally arranged; the choice of lyrics is well suited to this minimalism involving the fluid double bass of Frédéric Samson and, occasionally, the violin of Olivier Demers. Charles-Émile Beaudin’s sound recording is exemplary, accompanied by sounds captured outdoors by the riverside. The musical peculiarity of this opus lies in the union of the double bass’s jazzy phrasing and the soloist’s singular timbre, an elegant contrapuntal discourse limited to two lines, with a few exceptions. The poetic qualities of Maison de pierres are found in the theme of travel, which is paradoxical in times of pandemic immobility. Since we are compelled to make an interior journey to Ireland, France, or Germany of yesteryear, to hell or the confessional, to other destinations from within, this is an opportunity to take off figuratively.
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