With their latest album ‘Légèrement’, Montreal-based band Rosier take the traditions of Québécois folk and sweetly revitalize it for a modern day setting.
Stream: ‘Légèrement’ – Rosier
The opening track on the latest album by Rosier is a recreation of a traditional folk song, something that is instantly felt with the whirling sparseness and flowing repetition. It tells the story of a woman trying to poison her husband (‘Mais enseignez-moi donc/ Mais enseignez-moi donc/ Enseignez-moi la poison’), in a manner that whisks you into a solitary place beyond the hills. It’s a familiar theme throughout, with the lyrics sourced from a variety of traditional stories and the sound being recognizably folky but also refreshing. The result is taking a lesser known part of cultural history and revitalizing in for a wider audience.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Légèrement, the latest album by Montreal based band Rosier (released January 29). Poetic and soothing, it’s the ideal accompaniment to lazy Sundays or afternoons with hazy sunshine coming through the window, the days gradually getting longer. In “Pantoise,” an aura of nature skips and hops throughout, the scent of freshly cut grass and the glow of daffodils, but, despite the sonic optimism, there’s a morbidness to the words with innocence turning to tragedy.
There are multiple stories in which singing is the core of the emotions. ‘Je reviens d’un long voyage, de la misère j’en ai eu/ Hôtesse avez-vous du vin blanc/ Pour un voyageur/ Pour un voyageur sans argent’ Goes “Dans Les Voyages”, recounting an old traveller living with a simplicity, who starts to sing and makes the hostess cry: ‘J’avais un amant, dans les voyages/ Voilà sept ans qu’il est parti/ Et je crois que/ Et je crois que vous êtes lui.’ The sound of piano has the effect of rolling hills and ‘aahhhs’ are like the movement of wind. In “La fille qui chante”, a young woman lonely in a hotel room uses her voice as a means of seduction, singing to create charm. (‘Elle n’eut pas moitié souper/ Qu’elle s’est mise à chanter/ Elle chantait d’une si jolie façon/ Que son amant est venu au son.’). “Insensible” is soft and sweetly melancholic, recalling the tender sounds of Quebecois folk duo Les Soeurs Boulay while torn love and yearning are addressed with the familiar references to the natural. ‘Un coeur comme vous/ N’est pas comme le mien/ Prends donc pitié’ goes the chorus, a sudden build up in sound like sudden tugging at the heart. Music is therefore a form of romanticism, whether painful or joyous, in the same way that Rosier take stories and romanticize them through their instrumental compositions.
Time is real
If you can hear
The rush of the stream
The rush of the stream
I know all I wanna know
Is stuff in the middle
I know all I wanna know
Is stuck in a signal
– “Mad River,” Rosier
Trois écoliers de Pontoise, vont faire un tour dedans Paris
Dans leur chemin ils rencontrent, trois demoiselles fort jolies
La plus jeune qui les menace, vous aurez dû repentir
si vous passez par Pontoise, en prison vous serez mis
Ils ont pris les trois frères, sont condamnés à mourir
Le plus vieux qui les consolent, ne pleurez pas mes frères petits
Ne pleurez pas mes frères petits
– “Pantoise,” Rosier
Rosier is formed of Sarah Marchand, Béatrix Méthé, Éléonore Pitre, Marie Savoie-Levac, and Colin Savoie-Levac. Their ethos is taking traditional Québécois folk and reinterpreting it for a modern day setting. Formerly known as Les Poules à Colin and having been together since 2009, Légèrement is a follow-up to their 2019 self-titled EP which marked the fresh start as Rosier. While many of the songs take their lyrics from old folk tales, there’s also originality. “Paula Collins” is about the whirlpool life, triggered by life on the road as musicians, and “Mad River” is about feeling lost in time and questioning existence while nature is at the centre of this, holding us together. Sonically it has the effect of Spring showers and harmless grey skies, the melodic cries that amount throughout carrying the listener like the current of a river.
With all of this in mind, Légèrement is a kind of collage put together in the air of the countryside. Cultural history and current musings are blended seamlessly together while the musical arrangements are a reinventing of traditions.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Rosier’s Légèrement EP with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
Stream: ‘Légèrement’ – Rosier
:: Inside Légèrement ::
This is one of the first songs that we created around the album. It existed in severals shapes and forms before finding it’s true home on Légèrement. From my initial bedroom arrangement, to the casual early morning jams here and there on tour, to finally being filtered through the ears and eyes of our producer Quinn Bachand, who opened the last door bringing everything together. This folk song is about a woman who attempts to poison her jealous husband but gets caught at her own game.
It’s always a challenge to rearrange traditional songs, especially when the ones that catch our twisted minds are often the gloomier ones. In this one we abandoned our usual melancholy and our soaring melodies to give new life to this ancient text discovered by Sarah. Portraying humans with tragic destinies, the song takes shape around dancing instrumentals and warm vocals, inspired by the luminous folk-pop of Paul McCartney.
Most of my ideas are born at the wheel; this song is an example. As I was driving along the Mad River on my way to my hometown in Vermont, I found myself flooded with existential reflections, impossible questions, observations to pass the time. A melody occupied my mind throughout the trip, and I wrote this song once I reached destination, juxtaposing both geographical and metaphorical places that continue to haunt my imagination.
This song is born out of a collaboration between Éléonore and I. I was living out of the city at the time, so a lot of voice memos were exchanged. The catchy guitar hook was the one that got the ball rolling. The lyrics are a collage of two texts I gathered from traditional songbooks. We had fun pairing these old words of broken love to this new wistful melody. As the song was gradually leaning further into the folk-pop realm, we thought we’d reach out to two of Montréal’s most prolific musicians in the scene to produce the track; Alex McMahon and Guillaume Chartrain.
DANS LES VOYAGES
This one tells the story of a mysterious traveller with a haunting voice that resurfaces after several years. Intimate verses guided by the charm of an upright piano give way to colorful and dreamy instrumentals. The harmonious exploration of sonic textures enhanced by a dream pop atmosphere wouldn’t have existed without Quinn’s ideas of grandeur.
Written by Colin and I, this song is sort of a melancholic hymn to the path that we have chosen as musicians, a life punctuated by departures and returns, a spiraling journey that offers a lot of joy as well as turbulence. In the track is inserted a sample that we recorded during a swim in one of the most beautiful rivers in the world while on tour in New-Zealand. You can hear the wind blow, insects buzzing away, and the howl of our sound engineer Filou as he swirls through the rapids.
LA FILLE QUI CHANTE
Sarah brings us a folk song with an enchanting theme, that of a young girl who sings so beautifully that she seduces with her angelic voice in order to achieve her goals. By portraying a romance dating back a few hundred years, we want to make one of the few feminist folk songs shine before its time. A dimmed atmosphere featuring enveloping vocal harmonies, shimmery organ sounds and slide guitar interventions reminiscent of an ‘80s rock ballad.
VOILA LÀ ROSE
As if we wanted to get back to basics without neglecting the depth of the text, our intention here was to craft an arrangement with a more minimalist direction, setting the tone for this strange narrative. True to tradition, the nightingale plays the role of a messenger carrying words of love. This piece was created in a rather improvised way during a studio session, the mesmerizing banjo as a backdrop on which we overlayed a series of instruments, all converging towards an emotional and colorful end to the album.
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📸 © Marc-Andre Thibault
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