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LISA BOUCHELLE
                              & THE BLEU

JUMP IN! 
Wet Duck Records

There is a certain groove, an indefinable groove, that some great songwriters can tap into that makes their songs infectious. Paul Simon has it (Kodachrome, Late In The Evening), David Bowie (Heroes, Boys Keep Swinging) and so does Lisa Bouchelle. Lisa of course is nowhere near as world famous as Paul or David or any other superstar songwriter but she writes songs that would have those guys tapping their feet and to go with the music, lyrics of self-belief and encouragement to others. Also in common with those great writers is that she can cross genres whilst still keeping her own identity: You cannot pigeonhole Lisa Bouchelle and for clarity, that’s a compliment.

 

More often than not, artists go into a studio to record an album because it’s time to fulfil their label contract or they feel the need to express themselves at that moment. That’s fine and it does give a snapshot of said artist in their life but it can also have the negative effect of feeling that some songs are forced rather than inspired. Lisa has no such commitments (to my knowledge) and hence this album feels as if it’s written over the course of a journey rather than at a truck-stop. Indeed, played start to finish it does seem like a journey through a stage of your life starting with a challenge to jump in to the unknown and ending with a thanks for coming along. It is a collection of her thoughts and feelings but they are thoughts and feelings we can all relate to and you will at times favour one song over the next depending where you are on your own life journey. It doesn’t matter which though, they are all good.

 

There are three covers on the album and a re-working of one of her older songs, that being Along For The Ride which in its previous incarnation was an acoustic guitar driven singalong whereas this his arranged for a more contemporary audience with a solid backing track punctuated by staccato guitar and siren synth. Lisa covers Let It Go from the film Frozen and nails it and whilst taking on a song that has been covered some 500 times by some of the most revered recording artists ever may seem risky, she does great credit to the Otis Blackwell/Eddie Cooley song Fever whilst nicely erasing your memory of the more recent Madonna and Beyoncé versions. It must be said as well that the arrangement and production – especially the mix – on that track is superb. Warren Zevron’s Keep Me In Your Heart is a poignant song it being the last track on his last album before he passed away and here, Lisa keeps the pathos but also adds a touch of melancholy turning it from a last farewell into more of a nostalgic memory.

 

In the perfect world, Lisa would be far more popular and richer than she is but if this album reflects anything it’s that she’s happy with her position in life and as long as she keeps writing and recording songs of this quality, I for one will keep listening.

 

Track List

Jump In!

Love Is For The Making

Straight & Narrow

Twice As Tall

I Believe

Heaven On Credit

Fever

Reinvent

Along For The Ride

Let It Go

You Got The Rock

Keep Me In Your Heart

EZ On Me LA

Flying Caravan Cover.jpg

THE FLYING CARAVAN 
I JUST WANNA BREAK EVEN
Independent 

This album dropped into my inbox with the recording and production notes which in part read ‘…recorded their first double, “I Just Wanna Break Even” between March and August 2017. Somewhat confused as the album I had received had the same title so why I had been sent an album recorded four years ago? Well, as it turns out, it’s because it has taken that long for it to fully materialise. A bit of background to start with then.  

 

The Flying Caravan was started by guitarist Antonio Valiente who sites his influences as the classic Prog bands; he was joined by keyboardist Juanjo Sánchez who has similar influences. It is worth noting that this was back in 2004 so this has been a very long work in progress with vocalist Izaga Plata being added in 2014, Pedro Pablo Molina (bass) in 2015 and drummer Lluís Mas in 2016. Seventeen years is a long time to hold a dream and project in your head but it’s here now so let’s give it a spin.

 

I was hooked from the opening chords and for any of you out there that love vintage 70’s sounds, you will be as well. This is quite simply a marvellous piece of work that integrates beautiful arrangements and melodies in a way we have not heard from a very long time. There is the light and shade we love of those classic albums, there is a gauntlet of emotions that range from the upbeat title track to the lament of Love´s Labour Mislaid. Antonio’s and Juanjo’s solo are perfect in their choice of sound and execution whilst Pedro and Lluís do a brilliant job of pushing and pulling the dynamics of the songs; their timing is impeccable. The opening track by the way is an instrumental so it’s not until eight minutes in that we hear Izaga sing but as soon as she does, it lifts the album to a higher level - a level that is very high to begin with.

 

The album is a double CD set and I can see a few of you with quizzical faces wondering why. Well, because it should be. This is an album that Classic Rock in all but age and as such, a Classic Rock format is used (including an eye-catching piece of artwork for the front cover of the CD). CD1 ends with a piece that seems to be drifting off into the sunset with a long sax solo but then suddenly flips into a couple of different time signatures before a delicate instrument/vocal coda which with a vinyl release would be the perfect ending to advance to Side 3, the start of the seven-part masterpiece which I shall leave you to discover yourself – no spoilers here.

 

In conclusion, all I can say is have a listen to those opening chords yourself in the video below. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 

Track List

CD 1

1. Get Real (07:44)

2. Flying Caravan (06:49)

3. Upstream To Manonash (07:20)

4. Love´s Labour Mislaid (06:39)

5. The Bumpy Road To Knowledge (16:45)

 

CD 2

1. A Fairy Tale For Grown-Ups (36:00)

I) Northern Lights

II) Change Of Revue

III) S.A.D. (Solitude Affective Disorder)

IV) The World Had Turned Over (And I Couldn´t Hold On)

V) Moonlight Labyrinth

VI) Second Thoughts

VII) The Sum Of Your Fears