Sunday, 21 April 2013

Albums for Life: 19: Daniel Lanois: Acadie

When I was recording 'Candids' with Steve Davis in the early 90s we shared a studio in London's historic Boundary Row studios (near the Elephant and Castle) with Bert Jansch who was recording stuff that would later make it on to his 'When the Circus Comes to Town' album. After each day's recordings Steve returned home to his nearby digs, locking me in the studio. Bert wasn't very chatty; my only real company was the sole CD in the studios; and I had 'Acadie' on constant rotation into the wee small hours as I lounged on the studio couch and feasted on Rich Tea biscuits and bourbon.
It was the perfect soundtrack to my decadence.
I was never a big royalist but I remember turning on the studio TV in the early hours to hear about Lady Di's accident in Paris. One of Bert's band howled "die bitch' at the screen and we nearly engaged in fisticuffs. I crawled back to the sanctuary of my couch and remember this feeling like the most sorrowful, enveloping music ever, oddly appropriate for my unexpected grief; particularly the end song, a graceful elegy; the hymn 'Amazing Grace'.
Could be a Neil Diamond moment but it's not...

These otherworldly tunes are benefit of Lanois' Quebecois heritage. There's the trademark swampy ambience married with a startling intimacy in these folk tales, told in both French and English. Recorded in New Orleans in 1989, this is a musical connect between the a long lost Acadian way and the surviving Cajun culture that still thrives just on the other side of the bayou...
Layers of shimmering sound insinuate and then retreat for raw, untreated moments of transcendent beauty.
I'd rather not try and demystify the magic here.
This sits sweetly with the recent albums that cited sound over substance as their justification for featuring so highly on my list of beloved music.
And I love this album's sound; I just press play and disappear.


  1. Easy to understand why you'd connect with this one. The LP/cassette got a lot of play back in the day. Upgraded to CD, but I don't think it's ever been played. I'll dig it out for a listen. Recorded in '89... has it really been almost 25 years? Certainly the eeriest version of Amazing Grace ever...

    Just picked up Sexsmith's latest, 'Forever Endeavour.' You're a much bigger fan of the dog-faced boy (your words!) than me, but I like this one; a nice return to form with Froom behind the boards. Nowhere To Go, Blind Eye, Morning Light, Life After A Broken Heart early faves...

    Hem also have a new one, 'Departure & Farewell' that I'm about to order & Ricky Ross has gone all Woody Guthrie with 'Trouble Came Looking' - a bare bones protest record that I'm holding off on for reviews...

    PS: I went hog-wild trying to pitch my #17 pick (Ellis Paul) to what I thought was a wholly unfamiliar audience. But I just remembered your gal Di had "Paris In A Day" as part of her web-site background music at one time. I guess I was wrong???

  2. I really like Ron produced by Froom; they suit each other well. I love the French Horn flourishes... he always seems to write the same song these days but it's a lovely one.
    I was aware of Hem and Ross CDs; I too am awaiting reviews/clips before committing.
    Ellis Paul? Di did have him on her web. I think we played him to death after the initial discovery.