Vincent Beaulne – The Voice Is Mine
Blues Del Records – 2018
11 tracks; 45 minutes
Vincent Beaulne is a musician and songwriter based in Montreal, Canada. He is a member of the Blues Delight blues band and also the artistic director of the Blues Camp within the Montreal International JazzFest. This CD is a departure as Vincent plays entirely acoustically, mainly in duo and trio settings. Vincent sings and plays all the guitars, mandolins and cigar boxes but also has guests joining in on a few tracks: Pat Loiselle and Shawn McPherson on harmonica, Ray Legere on violin and Sheila Hannigan on cello. Fellow Blues Delight members Marco Desagné and Gilles Schetagne add bass and drums and multi-instrumentalist Laurent Trudel adds harmonica, flute and violin. Vincent wrote nine of the songs, four in collaboration with Robert Langlois, and there are two traditional tunes.
There really is nowhere to hide on an acoustic album like this and Vincent’s warm voice and intricate guitar stylings are beautifully recorded and mixed (by Bernard Beringer and Guy Hébert). Opener “Under The Radar” has Pat Loiselle’s lonesome harp giving a nice blues feel before an emotional song “Rock In My Shoe” which Vincent had written for Bob Walsh who, sadly, died before he could record it. Vincent’s words form a suitable epitaph and the combination of mandolin and violin gives a sad grandeur to the song: “at the end of the day when the sun breaks down I will sing this song for you”. Nanette Workman adds vocals to the familiar “House Of The Rising Sun” before the moody “Night Rider” adds drums and ethereal flute that kept reminding me of Traffic! We then head back to the blues with “Look At What You Done” before a second traditional tune “Praying On The Ol’ Campground” gives Vincent the chance to show us his picking skills on a country-tinged instrumental.
The title track again adds harp to a strong lyric with a distinctly autobiographical feel and this excellent chorus: “Bound by an oath that was never sworn, I’ve been a searcher since the day I was born. I’ve never found a place where there’s no space and time”. “Anonymous” has cello and violin and is perhaps the track that is furthest away from the blues but that is compensated for by “Make It All Worthwhile” with the Delta feel of the cigar box, Sean’s harp and Vincent’s gentle lyrics: “it’s the voice of a lover, the sound of a river, it’s the song on the radio, that make it all worthwhile”. There is more slide on the appropriately titled solo performance of “Going Back To The Delta” before the album concludes with a lovely instrumental “Joe’s Guitar”, just Vincent and some gentle bass from Marco, a fine finale to a subtle and enjoyable album.