Bluegrass Diamonds,
Les Souvenirs de Mon Enfance
(self-produced, 2002)

Les souvenirs de mon en fance was a trip for me. The CD cover and words to the songs are entirely in French. Although the written language is foreign to me, the music is definitely speaking a language I understand. Some of the songs are traditional French bluegrass pieces while others are "paroles et musique." I assume that since the latter is not a traditional piece, it must be something composed by this group. I apologize for my French deficiency and look forward to hearing from readers about whether my translation is on cue.

When the first song, "Un Coeur qui a pleure," began, I was reminded of Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs. The heavy banjo intro and the overall beat immediately took me back in time to the days when the famous duo was being played frequently. The style is much the same.

What harmony! These guys really sound good together. The ending of the second song gave me cold chills. They do a round harmony in quarter scales. It is so beautiful! The close of the third song focuses on instruments instead of vocals and demonstrates that they can elicit equal emotions with their musical ability.

The reel got me on my feet. It may be a French tune, but hillbillies will welcome it as a fine opportunity for displaying buck dancing and clogging. It would certainly fit in at the barn dances back home. "Cherie dit le moi" is another fine piece for dancing and has quite a few bars that make you want to do a foot slap. "Big Sandy River" had me spinning and really getting a workout for my feet (while wishing for a much, much bigger dance space). It showcases the talents of the banjo, mandolin and fiddle works better than any other track on this CD. It is my favorite from this collection.

This is an extremely talented group with a sound that should appeal universally to all bluegrass fans. More importantly, they come together much better than many groups I have heard. They have an ideal sound with their vocals for bluegrass -- the "emphatic whined vocals" and "pulled" harmony that are traditional in American bluegrass. They have the accomplished sound that comes from decades of playing together, where music is taught to the children at a young age and they grow up singing together, naturally harmonizing each other with ease. I am really impressed with this group and cannot wait to share their music with my Daddy. I expect he will be smitten by the prominent mandolin. Me, I fell for the banjo, fiddle and harmony.

The members of Bluegrass Diamonds are Vincent Cormier on vocals and bass, Francis Cormier on vocals and guitar, Roger Gauvin on banjo, and Louis Arsenault on vocals and mandolin. Raymond Legere joins them on the violin, which sounds distinctly like a hillbilly fiddle. (Technically, there are no violins in bluegrass music. The style of playing distinguishes them apart. On this CD, Legere is definitely playing a "fiddle" -- with precision and skill.)

I am delighted to have been selected to review this CD. I plan to take it back East when I visit and play it for a few of the crowds. It is top-of-the-line bluegrass that should be introduced all across America. It is the style and sound that comes to mind when somebody mentions bluegrass around me. This is down-home country at its finest, whether you understand French or not!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 24 May 2003