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Le vent bohème

Lennie Gallant releases new French language CD

by Brian Lamey

Lennie Gallant is one of Canada's finest songwriters; and, in true-to-Canadian form, his collection of recordings is bilingual. With his new album, Le vent bohème, Gallant has returned to the recording studio to explore his Acadian roots. Drawing from folk, Acadian traditional ("Laisse aller") and modern rock styles ("Je ne changerais rien"), the result is an eclectic mix of influences that make up Gallant's own sound.

Le vent bohème is Gallant's first full-length French album, but he has always had a few French tunes on his set-lists and earlier releases. Three of his grandparents spoke French and he has always been influenced by Acadian bands. "With this album I've come full circle, in that when I started recording songs I was exposed to a lot of Acadian acts: like Harmonium, and Paul Piché. I was interested in what was happening in that scene at that time. French stuff was very unique. English bands were trying to copy what was going on south of the border. The French bands were doing their own thing," said Gallant from his Halifax office. Still, while Le vent bohème was a homecoming for of sorts, it wasn't without its difficulties for Gallant, "This has been a real lesson in how complicated the French language can be." Well-known musician and songwriter Ronald Bourgeois co-wrote three tracks and helped with lyrics. "He's very meticulous at putting a song together and will work at taking the time to write a song." Lennie's uncle, Tiomon Gallant also worked on lyrics, making sure the diction was just right.

Born and raised in Rustico, Gallant always had a dedicated following on the Island throughout his career, but his music has made a name for himself all around the world. Gallant is the winner of eleven East Coast Music Awards, and nominated for two Junos. Performing has taken him to Europe, the Middle East, Guatemala, the U.S., and he frequently traverses Canada.

The craft he brings to lyrics and songs is gaining notice from many other artists. This past March, million-seller Jimmy Buffett released a version of Gallant's "Mademoiselle voulez-vous danser?" Tara MacLean, Matt Minglewood, and others have been quick to record other Gallant originals.

His last album Lennie Gallant Live (2000), was a friendly reminder that he is an extraordinary performer as well as a talented songwriter. With the three members of the Halifax-based band Mir backing him, his live album brought new energy to many of his most requested songs. Le vent bohème features eight new tracks, but offers new light on a few fan-favourites as well. "Y'a que l'amour" ("There Is Only Love") is the French version of "Lifeline," the title track from his successful 1997 album.

Lennie Gallant's new album, Le vent bohème (The Gypsy Wind) will be released on October 1st. Visit: www.lenniegallant.com. He will be in Charlottetown to perform at UPEI's new Student Union Centre on October 5th. Says Lennie, "It will be a mostly English show, but we will throw a few French tunes in there, too."

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