Fierce Flowers’ Mirador is a delightful French album of folk music that travels from Paris to Americana backwoods with sepia tinged vocals, guitar, banjo, viola, and double bass. This one takes a lot of Appalachian twists and hexagonal turns. France has a wonderous history of folk music with albums from Malicorne, La Bamboche, Tri Yann, and Francis Cabrel. That’s 70’s stuff that I love. And don’t forget the great French-Canadian records by Seguin, Garolou, Le Reve Du Diable, and La Bottine Souriante, all of whom passionately embrace the distant root of The Song Of Roland.
So, imagine my surprise when the first tune, ‘Song Of The Open Road’, vibrated with banjo beauty and down-home heavenly bluegrass harmonies! My only thought was exactly the same as Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi, as he accidentally discovered the (sub-atomic unstable particle) muon, and then simply said, “Who ordered that?” But, never fear. It’s a great song with a spritely gait and a wonderful vocal. Sometimes, a new meal on the menu is a pleasant surprise– if it’s deep in tradition (with a few eggs), spiced up with organic flavour, a bit of pepper, and the universal sound of a pretty good banjo.
Odd: The second (and title) song, ‘Mirador’, finds French folky history that’s sung in their native tongue. This is wonderous folk music with urgent vocals, an acoustic guitar, and an eerie viola that still mourns the death of Joan of Arc. And then ‘Tell Me No’ returns to a bluesy pulse, which, quite frankly (no pun intended) pleads with vocal harmonies, banjo pain, the muddy waters of the insistent Mississippi River, and the passion of John Lennon’s ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. Odd (again), ‘La Corde’ is French voiced with a melody that flows deeper down river and touches the Cajun tradition of the Bayou that sort of pleasantly saws its way through its melodic world.
True story: I was in Paris (hence the connection to the review!) years ago and entered a Tai restaurant with a Tai menu – no French, English, or (even) pictures! So, I just pointed at a few things. When my wife asked about the order, I said, “It’s anyone’s guess, but I think it’s going to be good.”
The very same thing can be said about the rest of this album. And that’s the flux of this record: Backwoods bootleg whiskey brushes the Seine’s flow, and beyond that, it’s simply wonderous folk music with haunting melodies and really nice harmonies. ‘Thorny Path’ is patient and beautiful with another spooky viola solo. This is hoodoo stuff. ‘Cette Ronde’ is a nimble-fingered guitar song that echoes the prowess of Richard Thompson’s ‘Vincent Black Lightning’ (which isn’t a bad thing at all!). ‘Deux Pierres Noires’ is a brief acapella interlude. ‘Belle Paresse’ leaves America behind, like Charles Limbourg, and land squarely in a French beer garden and sings to those who order introspective drinks. ‘Tell Me Lies’ returns to the slow sad pace of Americana country. And those harmonies weep with universal tears. ‘Scene De Danse’ switches trains (again) with a quick step that jumps the broomstick and marries all sorts of traditional melodies.
Then, ‘How To Fly’ is folk perfection with abstract lyrics, a slow groove, that beautiful banjo, a sip of that before-mentioned backwoods bootleg whiskey, and exquisite harmonies. The final song, ‘Underwear In A Letter’, is another acapella tune that is brief (again no pun intended), weird, very poignant, and makes the singer “laugh and cry”.
So, yeah, tears and laughter make great food, and this music cries and laughs. Mirador is that lucky choice on a strange menu. And to anyone who ever uttered the question, “Who ordered that?” after stumbling upon a scientific discovery of muon magnitude, I’ll simply quote my friend, Kilda Defnut, who is, of course, fluent in French, and is apt to say, whenever she confronts clever music that slakes her audio appetite, “Faire mes compliments au chef”.
Artists’ website: www.fierceflowers.com
‘Mirador’ – live:
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