Casually, Mon Doux Saigneur will release its third album in five years this week. Created during the pandemic, Fleur de l’âge smells like a road trip with all the windows down and is a joyful ode to the life of a musician.
“I talk to my musicians a lot through this album. And so, to my best friends. Emerik St-Cyr Labbé is the soul and heart of Mon Doux Saigneur. He writes the texts, indicates the direction to take. This group is his project.
But after three albums created with the same core of musicians, Mandela Coupal-Dalgleish on drums, Eliott Durocher-Bundock on electric guitar, David Marchand on pedal steel – only bassist Étienne Dupré has been replaced here by Cédric Martel –, Mon Doux Saigneur is also a close-knit group, which signs the arrangements and whose members are the guardians of the “Mon Doux sound”.
“After three albums, everything is more fluid,” explains Emerik St-Cyr Labbé. We trust each other, we have less need to explain things to each other. We know right away if it’s Mon Doux, if it’s good Mon Doux. We said that while making the album: ah, that’s pristine, meaning, it’s clear, it’s crystalline, it’s beautiful. We didn’t want it to be cool, or nice. We wanted it pristine! »
The singer-songwriter had the same concern for clarity in his texts. He evacuated “overly broad metaphors”, wanted to be “more literal, more concise and first degree”.
The album is a reflection of what he and his musicians have been through over the past two years. Some became fathers, others went to live outside of Montreal, all got bored of touring life.
“Where have you been/I’ve missed you/come and get some air/where have you been/we missed each other/come and see us”, sings Mon Doux Saigneur on the first song of the album, the aptly named Living Art. His previous album, the excellent Horizon, was released in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. He managed to find his way into our ears despite the almost total absence of shows, but the singer wanted to talk about what he had missed during these two years. Without feeling sorry for himself, and above all by projecting himself into the future.
“The world is making jokes: do you write songs about confinement? Like, if you got there, that means you’ve run out of ideas, it’s like talking about the weather… But it’s still history, what happened, and it could be timeless. I didn’t rhyme health restriction with I don’t know what… I’m just saying: it’s been a long time since we went out and I can’t wait to see you again. It could be in any context. »
What has changed with Mon Doux Saigneur, which had already been initiated on Horizon, is a bias towards lightness, and the conviction that one can create other than in discomfort. “I tend to think I’ve talked enough about the doubts, and the regrets, and the bitterness. »
“The secret of age is to be happy…here”, he concludes in the title track, as if it were the leitmotif of the album.
“I say it in other tunes. It’s no secret you should be fine where you are right now, and if you’re not, there’s no point chasing after yourself. It’s a little bit of wisdom that I have to remind myself… Actually, I say you, but I talk to myself all the time! »
All this comes with a simplicity that befits the Americana of the project, and of which Emerik St-Cyr Labbé increasingly assumes the country side – David Marchand, “the Joe Grass of pedal steel”, is for many of this sound that calls the road trip. The singer, who can “take inspiration from Richard Desjardins and Abbittibbi” as much as “sound like Mac DeMarco or DJ Champion”, likes this kind of “swing” that they have been able to breathe into the whole.
A song like Shoegaze, for example, exudes pure, unadulterated fun. “Yeah, at the heart of the tune, there was fun, and I’m glad it showed. But it’s been like that all along. Even in the more serious songs, we were excited to make new music, and to take it a step further, in a 2.0 version. »
When he looks at this album which comes out on Friday, Emerik St-Cyr Labbé is proud of the road traveled, and of this trilogy which opens on the sequel.
“I had signed for three albums with my record company. This is the first time that I keep a job, that I do it well, and that I am not fired after six months. It proves to me that I am capable of completing something. And to get the best of the musicians who work with him, and their friendly and professional loyalty.
“There are many bands that have called them. By keeping them close to me, they are my best friends, so it is natural, it has its benefit for the personality of the group. I could not have calculated it, and I care about it even more than before. I am never alone. And it feels good, Mon Doux.