Sylvain St-Amour,
Cafe des Solitudes
(Quartz, 2007)

This is the first CD by harmonica player Sylvain St-Amour. He is backed by sound engineer and multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Charest on electric and acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion.

St-Amour takes the diatonic away from the blues ghetto (the diatonic is the smaller, more often seen harp compared to the larger chromatic). He usually plays drawn-out, mournful notes alternated with occasional fast riffs. They stand out against Charest's backgrounds that often feature Spanish acoustic guitar. "Minousky" uses orchestral, somber keyboards.

In "9 a 5," St-Amour plays at mid-tempo backed by Charest's standup bass. "Rever" has the harmonica accompanied by a stately acoustic piano. "A New Start" is the only blues song of the 10 tracks, with Charest filling in as a whole blues band.

For just two musicians, the duo provide a pretty good variety. For harmonica fans looking for something outside of the usual blues, this CD is a must.

review by
Dave Howell

15 March 2008

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