This album's been out a while now (2014), but I'll use as my excuse that it's only available in Canada and I first heard of this artist last summer in Montreal at the Festival La Grande Rencontre. It had been a long day and I was slowly falling asleep in the dark theater with comfy chairs. Jean-François Bélanger is a name known well among Montreal trad musicians, but is criminally unknown outside of the region, so I didn't know what to expect. But I certainly didn't expect to be utterly transported by such a creative artist! Bélanger is a tune composer, and while this isn't uncommon among young trad artists (much of the Berklee College fiddle alumni are tune composers), the difference is Bélanger's utter reverence for melody. While many fiddlers or instrumentalists toss out tune after composed tune, with each running together, Bélanger dwelt deeply on each tune he'd written that afternoon. Accompanied by Yann Falquet from Genticorum on guitar, and playing a very non-traditional instrument in Québec (the Swedish nyckelharpa), Bélanger hunched over his instrument, utterly focused on the creation of music. And what beautiful melodies! I've listened to his album over and over and I'm still enchanted by this music. Not since the master composers of Ad Vielle Que Pourra has a traditional composer this talented come out of Québec. And like Daniel Thonon of Ad Vielle, Bélanger is composing somewhat outside the tradition. The tunes here aren't the bouncy, effluvient reels and jigs that we've come to expect from Québec, but darker, more Baroque, or possibly Scandinavian. I'd say that if Thonon and Ad Vielle Que Pourra were to pass the torch to a younger composer, Bélanger is the perfect fit. And I honestly can't think of higher praise.

Jean-Francois Bélanger. Les vent orfèvres.
2014. Les productions de l'Homme-Renard

Buy this album directly from Jean-Francois at his WEBSITE.