Loïc Bléjean & Tad Sargent: It’s a folky grower of an album

23rd February 2017

Title: Aïta

Label: Market Square

Traditional Irish music from Bléjean on the uilleann pipes and low whistles with Sargent on bodhrán and bouzouki. This, their debut album, was recorded in Brittany, France in 2016, in a studio owned by Sylvain Barou who guests on flute with Jean-Baptist Boclé on keyboards and Ben Somers on double bass and backing vocals.

The album begins in a very traditional form with Irish Rendez Vous. An instrumental track packed with noise that invades your space and talks about tradition but does so in a very modern way with space and clarity and a sense of sonic quality. The content is almost at odds with the production.

Missing You, penned by Sargent, is the first vocal track and utilises a modern folk format to offer a tale of love. The most noticeable aspect of this song is the bass which produces a warming, richly formed foundation for the band to lay upon. It gives the other instruments confidence and strength.

That combination of the new and old is present in the instrumental track Fañch’s Cider, blending uilleann pipe constructions with an almost indie rock acoustic style that adds a new dimension to the song, pushing back a few boundaries about an inch and a half, but enough to make a ripple or two. Enough to be noticed, at any rate.

Beeswing is a waltzing, rhythmic vocal track of discovered and lost love, individuality freedom the realisation about what’s important in life. And what is truly not.

This is an album that grows upon you slowly. It layers. Like the sediment upon the ocean floor, to build and form and, before you know it, pretty things lay upon it. What I’m trying to say is that the more you live with this album, the more it makes sense and the more it gets under your skin. There’s a gentle melancholy about it. Even in its uplifting moments, which might reflect the choice of instruments. There’s a warm smile behind the sadness of the music, though. Acceptance, perhaps?