08 February 2011

Thee, Stranded Horse - churning strides (2007, Talitres)

Thee, Stranded Horse is a project of the French muscian Yann Tambour (before playing under the Encre alias). "Churning Strides" is a collection of songs built around the use of an African string instruments called kora which sounds like a fresh, greener, more versatile and aquatic version of banjo.

The banjo reference isn't free as often his voice turns into something folkish and bluesy which would fit perfectly with this instrument too. 

My main apprehension with this record his his way to sing in English which makes me cringe to the point it is impossible for me to put up with six of the eight tracks of this debut album.

If I'm there writing if is firstly that I enjoy a lot the brightness of the kora stamp and secondly because there are two exceptions here, where his vocals adopt a different and much more seductive form. 

The first and major success and real exception of this album is "Le sel". This is the only one song with French lyrics and a vocal approach totally different as most of his words are half-whispered and even hard to get and decode for a French native. It reminds me of Julie Doiron when she sings in French too, deliveringthose just as if she was breathing in. Strangely it is alo for me where on this disk he is closer to the traditional use of the instrument and its so particular melancholy, as played by Toumani Diabate or Ballaké Cissoko, but mixing it with a French personal sensitivity. It makes sound most of the other track like failed emulations of American Appalachian blues folk. Something unique an deeply moving happens here. 

"Swaying eel" is half saved too because he sings in English almost like it as French, avoiding his usual unpleasant vocal contortions.

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