Ronald Bourgeois,
Le Long Retour
(Al'infini, 2001)

It has been a long time since I studied French in college. My French is so rusty that it has collapsed under its own weight and lies in a twisted heap of broken verbiage. (Neat image, eh?) So, when I found out that Ronald Bourgeois's new CD Le Long Retour was all in French, right down to the liner notes, I was understandably daunted.

Having never encountered Ronald Bourgeois's music before, I did not realize that Acadian basically means "a French speaker from Nova Scotia." However, I found that it is not necessary to speak or understand French to enjoy this album. It certainly helps, but it's not necessary.

If I read the liner notes correctly, this is a CD of maturity, of nostalgia without regrets and returning home. All of this is conveyed by the music, even across the language barrier. The music, all of which is composed by Bourgeois, is simple and unornamented, with guitars, keyboards, mandolin and percussion. While at times the music has a faint hint of country about it, most often it seems like the music friends might play for each other as they relax around a kitchen table. It evokes a homey feeling. Bourgeois's voice is pleasant and warm, with the French enunciations giving it just a touch of exoticism. I found myself comparing his sound to Roy Orbison -- if Roy Orbison sang in French, of course.

Of the songs on this CD, two stand out best. "Plus ça change" is a song with a contemporary love song feel with a familiar chorus: "Plus ça change / plus c'est toujour la même chose" (The more things change / the more they stay the same). This line is particularly catchy; it caught me almost right away and won't let me go! "Je suis en amour" is another slightly up tempo song in which the title phrase stands out even for English speakers -- "I'm in love!"

Le Long Retour is a thoroughly pleasant introduction to the music of Ronald Bourgeois. Now that we're acquainted, I'm looking forward to finding more of his CDs.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 29 September 2001