Motif – August 20 – Sept 4 2008
[in the groove]
G. W. Mercure
Kari Tieger gets French & lovely in ‘Nos Mots’
In about 1995 or so, International Beans and Bags, formerly of the corner of
East Street and Wickenden, hosted a singer-songwriter named Kari Tieger. I remember seeing the poster: a simple black and white Xerox not uncommon to those performers among us who predate the proliferation of advanced digital technology. I mention this because the publicity photograph used on that poster still appears in Kari Tieger’s promotional materials, even now, with the release of her most accomplished disc, “Nos Mots.” Some of the singers around here seem to spend at least as much time getting their picture taken as they do putting together songs. That’s not Kari Tieger, and the difference is in the music.
I hope this doesn’t turn you off of this record but there are no English lyrics on it. That certainly intimidated me a bit as a reviewer, but I’m assuming you are not as lazy. Nos Mots consists of eight shimmering vocal performances in the popular idiom, more or less, as well as a sonata, and a sonatina for violin and piano, all composed by Tieger.
The album’s title, whose English transliteration is “Our Words,” aptly describes the communal achievement on display: in addition to Tieger, Aline Duran, Catherine Rousseau, Ollie Brennan and someone called Zao [all] contributed lyrics to “Nos Mots.” The guitar player on this album is Paul Gabriel and his nylon string guitar is as bright as any I’ve ever heard, especially on the beautiful “Paysages du Monde” (Landscapes of the World).
A definite highlight of the CD is “Un Ange Chante” (An Angel Singing), lyric from a free verse poem by Catherine Rousseau. I could quote the whole thing. It’s reminiscent of “Nothing At All” by Allison Krauss:
“What is not said, not thought/
Is still there.”
Zao contributed what may be the disc’s finest lyric in “Papier Glace” (Frozen Paper):
O, my love in your lonely bedroom,
I offer you now, from my heart/
These few wounded words,
Stained with the ink of my tears.”
But it is Tieger’s album, and she is masterful on it. Her command of the ache and decay inherent in the French vocal tradition is complete, and her grasp of popular music forms is broad and fresh. Where she will blow you away, however, is on the classical compositions. The Sonatina for violin and piano is a discovery, flowing and hesitating with the expert timing of violinist Lauren Benowitz (Tieger is on piano). The Autumnal Sonata consists of allegretto, largo, vivace, andantino and presto. Audrey Kaiser does a nice job with the swaying piano part (Tieger is on the piano on the alternate take bonus track). This is easy music to appreciate: simple, visceral, grounded in the Western classical tradition.
The shame of this album is that it can be appreciated with very little or no French and barely rudimentary music theory; it’s that good, that genuine. But a little digging, a decent bi-lingual dictionary and a close listen reveals these splendid lyrics, candid turns of phrase, lilting turns on the violin. You don’t have to know all the ingredients to be sated, even thrilled, by a meal. That is proven by “Nos Mots.” But this is one case in which getting to know the kitchen a little bit will make you hungry all over again.
I *love* Nos Mots! The CD has a very cosmopolitan feel to it. I love the mix of instrumental and vocal works. What a treat!
i think it's wonderful...you're in great voice...the more i listen the more i like it!
Very impressed by your new CD, Kari!... A truly successful production ! :p
I closed my eyes and thought I was sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Paris!! Many of the songs would be great movie tunes as well.
The talents of my friends are a constant source of amazement for me. In case you are not aware, our Kari has just put out a new CD, Nos Mots, which is absolutely fabulous. From start to finish, it is an wonderful piece of artistry. The songs with vocals are all in French (with the English provided in the booklet). At the moment, my vocal favorite is Paysages Du Monde (Landscapes of the World), and instrumental is Sonatine pour Violon et Piano. Although Tout De Meme (All the Same) is coming up on the inside - it looks like Ollie wrote the words for this song. I am a huge fan of music which incorporates the cello, and there are some lovely pieces to be had on Nos Mots. Jon also plays and conducts on the CD. The packaging is very high quality as well. I highly recommend this beautiful work. Well done, Kari!
dear Kari: Your CD is beautiful. Good work and good choice on collaborators. Paul's guitar was magnificent and Tony, of course, is Tony. Love to all, Ciao
I just listened to it, and it's SUPERB! I especially enjoy your Faure-esque harmonic twists in "Un ange chante", and the lyrics in "Brouillard." This is a really consistent album, and I look forward to listening to it encore et encore!!
Thanks so much!!!!!
Well I received Nos Mots yesterday and I played it last night. What a lovely work it is! The album is beautifully arranged and performed and your voice and songs are magnificent! Sonatine, Papier Glace and Sonate D'Automne are gorgeous miniature masterpieces! I'll be playing the CD VERY often!
Bravo to you!
Love and Blessings,
I got the CD and immediately played the entire thing. It's terrific! Congratulations, and thanks for including me on such an accomplishment. J
It arrived yesterday, and I'm swept away!..Too soon to define more specific impressions, except to say I was especially taken with track 4, Sois La Pour Moi...and Sonate D'Automne, both tracks :)...and of course, Un Ange Chante...
I caught Bill taking his break from rebuilding our front steps, and played those tracks...He was quite willing to listen, which is a sure sign of interest...We both like music, and sometimes our tastes coinside, but often he'll ask that I lower the volume if it differs from his taste... There was none of that today, in fact his face held a very pleasant look, and his break lasted longer than usual ;p
I had yesterday evening to listen, and was out of here early this a.m., but I had Nos Mots playing as I drove...Plan to listen again this evening...What I enjoy is getting into the lyrics, and perhaps uttering a little of the French (if by chance it is in synch with yours, I'm so pruod !!)
Kari, you are quite a talented composer, lyricyst (poet), singer, pianist.....All of those things amaze me, as I'm not so much at any of that, but, I do have a special niche (however crowded), as a true fan of one Kari Tieger, and am proud to have you as my friend !!
The album is smooth and polished, and very worthy of hitting the charts ! More reflections as I continue to listen...
And thanks for personalizing my copy ! :P Take care...
Your disc is beautiful.
Linda's first comment on seeing the cover was "Wow, she looks gorgeous!!
I appreciate the special thanks in the intro flap. I really like the lyrics and translations (an art form in its own right), the layout, photos, and the classy, classic look of the overall package. Even though it's in French, I think the quality of the song writing and the passion of the performances will generate attention and sales here in the states.
This is a fine piece of work that you should be very proud of. Great job!
I hope to see you soon.
j'ai enfin eu un peu de temps pour écouter ton cd en français (l'autre pas encore)
il y a certains arrangements que j'apprécie beaucoup, surtout les chansons faites avec des vrais instruments (guitares) comme le second titre
c un album assez personnel ou on ressent bien une atmosphère de nostalgie et de mélancolie, très féminin
est ce toi qui composes les chansons instrumentales?
j'apprécie aussi ta façon de parler sur certains titres comme si tu récitais des poèmes, c bien fait ... je n'écouterais pas ça tous les jours, car c un CD a écouter a tête reposée mais j'apprécie le fait qu'il soit original et personnel ... je n'ai pas encore bien écouté les textes mais ils ont l'air, d'un premier abord assez riche ...
pour ma part, je finalise toujours mon 3eme CD et je te l'envoie disons, pour être sur, courant juillet ....
a + Kari