For his latest release, Stanley Brinks, aka André Herman Düne, is joined once again by the Norwegian folk collective The Kaniks, this time stripped back (as the Old Time Kaniks) to a two piece version of fiddler Olav Christer Rossebø and clawhammer banjo player Erlend Aasland.
Vieilles Caniques et Nouvelles Caniques is, for the most part, steeped in traditional Appalachian and Arcadian folk with the occasional dash of the European Calypso of which Brinks is so fond.
Sounding not unlike Jonathan Richman, Brinks sings in both English and French, the album is divided into two discs, although the musical differences between Vielles (old) and Nouvelle (new) are likely to prove rather too subtle for more than the expertly trained and genre-familiar ear. However, the press release assures that the former’s thematically more about longing and heartbreak while the songs on the latter are about being more content and resolved. Either way, the majority seem to be about either drinking or love (gained/lost), and frequently in combination.
Disc one gets underway with, at just over four minutes, the longest song of the lot. Ten In The Morning is a mid-tempo banjo rippling, fiddle scraping number about trying to get yourself together after a night on the bottle. It comes complete with yodelling, bouncing off into the lyrically playful romantic declarations of For You (“I leave my soul to the Pope and the Devil, they have more use for it than I do….but I keep my good loving for you!”).
Generally speaking, the subject matter doesn’t move much beyond this on titles that, over the course of 26 tracks, include All I Need, Hard Hearted Woman, Your Brown Eyes (the first on disc two and also four minutes), You Broke My Heart and If You Don’t Love Me. Four of them also take just women’s names as their titles. There’s also three nods to places, L’Hays-Les-Roses on Vielles a cajun’ish fiddle tune named for a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, and, on Nouvelles, the sprightly Au Luxembourg and the Gavotte-like En Rhenanie Palatine (about the Rheinland-Palatinate).
The tempo and pacing throughout is mainly upbeat and lively, disc one’s Julie and closer Vielle Canique and disc two’s plaintive Please Don’t Take My Heart Away and waltzing last track When Will I See You Again the closest it gets to balladry.
The subtle musical variation between many of the numbers means that it’s probably not one to be sampled at a single sitting, but, it is immaculately played, unpolished and, for the most, jubilant in spirit and mood, it’s a gem of its kind.
Out now via Fika Recordings
Order it here: shop.fikarecordings.com