Ad Litteram – 2016
11 tracks; 54 minutes
Angel Forrest is from Quebec and has been recording since 1996, in her native French as well as in English. On this album the material was all written by Angel and her partner Denis Coulombe with the express intention of featuring a different guitarist on each track. The players offer a range of styles from jazz-inflected to full on blues-rock so there is plenty of variety. The core band is Denis on rhythm guitar, occasional bass and Mexican style trumpet on the opening track, Sly Coulombe or Ben Clement on drums, Alec McElcheran on bass, Daniel Thouin on keys, Steven Rousseau on harp and a horn section of Nicolas Boulay on trumpet, Mathieu Mousseau on baritone and Frankie Thiffault on tenor sax appears on a few tracks.
Angel’s voice has that slight touch of grit and it is no surprise to discover that she has played Janis Joplin on stage, even recording an album of Janis material. “Hangman” opens with Spanish guitar but quickly morphs into more of a standard rocker with guitar courtesy of Johnny Flash (great name for a guitar player!). New Orleans rhythms with horns and fine piano propel the impressive “All The Way” which Angel sings superbly, Rob MacDonald adding some subtle flourishes on guitar. Steve Strongman’s jazz-inflected guitar work fits well with the latin style of “Spoil Me Up”, Angel waiting impatiently for her lover to return. Ricky Paquette is featured alongside Steven’s harp on the fast shuffle “Hold On Tight” but things get moody on “Tumbleweed” where Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre plays pedal and lap steel which gives the tune a country feel.
2016 IBC finalist Paul Deslauriers and Denis play acoustic guitars on the ballad “Goodbye” before “Let Me Go” provides the longest and arguably strongest song on the set, a horn-drenched soul ballad on which Kim Greenwood’s guitar flourishes in the verses work well and his extended solo just manages to avoid going over the top. Two heavier tracks follow, neither of which were to this reviewer’s taste: Corey Diabo’s screaming leads on “Wildflower” fit the rocky style of the song but Shane Murphy’s histrionic playing on “Touch Of My Hand” is simply distracting. Steve Hill also plays some heavy guitar but it fits the song perfectly as Angel emotes about lost love on “Crucify” before Adam Karch brings the album to a close with some very pretty acoustic work on the fetching ballad “You And I”.
Angel’s vocal work throughout fits the material well and the different guitarists offer a wide variety of styles which generally fit the songs well.