Vishtèn. Terre Rouge.
The new album from the only touring Acadian trad band, Vishtèn is a delight from start to finish, no surprise. Made up of Prince Edward Island sisters Pastelle and Emmanuelle Leblanc (Pastelle is the accordionist/pianist, and Emmanuele plays whistles, mandolin and foot percussion), and Magdalen Islands fiddler Pascal Miousse, this power trio of traditional Acadian artists sounds anything but strictly traditional on this new album. The songs are mostly drawn from the tradition, but are arranged with an ear to complex folk arrangements and bombastic instrumentalism. With rolling piano and bodhran lines, Pastelle’s accordion and Pascal’s fiddle mesh perfectly, soaring through newly composed instrumental tunes that feature the signature syncopation of Acadian fiddling. That syncopation is not often talked about, but it’s what ties the old styles of Acadian fiddling together across the diaspora in Eastern Canada, from the NE corner of New Brunswick (BIG shout-out to Vishtèn for covering a set of tunes from my friend Robin Leblanc [no relation], one of the best young Acadian fiddlers) to the shores of West PEI or the lobster fishing villages of the Magdalens, or even far Chéticamp in Cape Breton. As always, Vishtèn is the perfect introduction to Acadian traditional music, which makes it all the more heart-breaking that they are quite literally the only Acadian trad band doing this right now.