Language & Lyrics – French – Album Review
So…yeah…I mean…I suppose there’s no hiding the fact that I’ll literally listen to EVERYTHING when I’m sitting here listening to and reviewing an album full of music written for the purposes of teaching people the French language is there? Come on though…you know I must have a personal reason for all this madness right – I mean…this skull of my own here is completely impenetrable…I tried learning French for about…pffffff…what…about three or four years in high-school? Hate to say it…but those days are heading towards the nearly ‘two-decades behind me’ stage of life…and what little I’ve learned has long been eaten away by television rotting my brain at the corners.
However…all this being said…doesn’t change the fact that I AM here, sitting and listening to an album that is full of French language, lessons and learning. Somewhere…somehow…in the back of my brain – many of these words still do come back to me…and what’s not there from before is being beautifully implanted through the music and teachings of Language & Lyrics subliminally for perhaps a later time when I might need it. The album itself is laid out in wild chapters and stories that breathe life into what learning could actually BE like – and for this reason alone above all others I think that this should be recognized and commended for its achievement.
Had I access to a tool like this as a younger-lad…I’d be far more educated than I currently am. I just recently answered a question on ‘why I do what I do’ in an interview for a friend…and the resulting answer largely had to do with the fact that music has ALWAYS been my teacher…and that I considered my job to be the inspiration to that next generation of teachers out there in the independent music-scene. It’s important to keep the cycle continuing…as far as I’m concerned. But I was never educated quite as directly as this would be…as what I’m hearing on Language & Lyrics; I was left to fill in the blanks of what my heroes were writing about in the songs they wrote and still learn a lot on my own.
What Language& Lyrics are doing here is actually quite extraordinary. This educational tool they’ve built around the extraordinary music performed mainly by Kyle Dillingham is more than effective. I’m not going to profess to be a master of French myself by the end of this review…but that’s not their fault, that’s the impenetrable-skull of mine I was referencing earlier. But what my ears can hear…and quite clearly I might add…is the OUTSTANDING music that goes along with these lessons en-francaise. Kyle Dillingham in general…might just be one of the most amazing undiscovered gems I’ve actually ever stumbled upon in doing what we do here at sleepingbagstudios. He is one seriously incredibly gifted musician…clearly has a range of talent that expands to all kinds of instruments, rhythms and sounds…but the writing! OH MY LORD THE WRITING IS SOOOOOO GOOD! Of course…yes…I’m talking about music and melody for the most-part as I only understand so many of the words on my own…but the real beauty in music is how translatable it can still be even without a 100% understanding of it all.
And to me…that’s the real magic here. I would absolutely, without a doubt, 100% listen to this album on my own at any given time without so much as a single push or prod towards it. I love what Language & Lyrics have done here on this record…the music is so incredibly vibrant, exotic and stunning all the way throughout each and every chapter – I literally never once encountered a single point in listening I felt was any weaker than any of the others. That’s EXTRAORDINARY! Seriously…to think this amount of perfection in ideas, tones, sounds and atmospheres would be found on an educational album is like suggesting the medicine you’re about to take really tastes good or that you really won’t feel the needle go into your arm when you get a shot. You’d never expect it to be the case, but this is truly amazing. I could cite specific ‘Chapitres’ for you, like #10 for its amazing combination of violins and piano…I could go back to the early ‘Chapitres’ on the record and tell you how much they remind me of the creativity, freedom and style of Beirut’s incredible music…I could literally go on and on. The vocals in ‘Chapitre 15’ are gorgeous…absolutely full of rich-tones and beautiful male & female vocals that are just brimful of vibrant passion. There’s a real attention paid to the production, performance and clarity on this record…much of the music is wildly inventive but often subtle and simple to a degree; uncomplicated so that the words can still get through along with their message. In the case of songs like ‘Chapitre 15’ and many others, you get a slight English-accompaniment that will echo the lines you’re about to hear in French in order to get that learning and educational element working as well.
It’s one of the first times, if not the only time, I can ever recall listening to a song in French and thinking ‘hey…get that English-guy out of there…he’s wrecking the vibe…’ – but from a sheer musical-entertainment standpoint, which really isn’t the intended-purpose of this music…well…he’d be getting in the way of some really gorgeous music! But I understand his purpose…and he makes sense to be there; I’m not quite sure why he’s there sometimes and not at others…but I suppose there’s different lessons for different reasons, all designed to teach you many different things. I can’t imagine that these musical-lessons of language wouldn’t reach the people…that’s the best part about it all – the quality of the music has been so amazingly incredible that there’s EVERY reason to listen to this album even if you’re NOT looking to learn! Like I said – I’d have no problem putting this one on ‘just because’ – I don’t need to seek out the educational-aspect of the music in order to enjoy the music.
Some will work a little better than others…and in terms of reaching the youth or educating people through music, it still runs the risk of needing to sound similar to something they’d connect with in order to listen to those lessons presented. I know for me…this would have worked from the age of twenty & up…but I’m honestly not completely sure about the younger-version of me. I like to think I would have appreciated this more than anything else I’d experienced in education…but to be truthful I just didn’t like music that was as good as this is way back when.
That being said…I occasionally still run into them youngsters through the work here at the studio…and I can tell you firsthand that the people of my generation are squeezing out some insanely cool kids that are now growing up. All of those people I’m speaking of all had an intense love of music and the community & unity that comes from it…and perhaps this next-generation of youngsters out there will really connect with this sound, style and approach to learning. I would only hope that something like this would be attempted more and more as time goes on…I truly think it’s important. And for what it’s worth…though I might not understand every word myself – I really don’t think I’ve ever heard an attempt at education through music pulled-off so amazingly well as this is. “Chapitre 25” for example…I mean…that’s just a jaw-dropping, time-stands-still moment in time for music and vocals…that right there is as good as music can be in any language.
Because music truly is its own language, form of communication and always will be. Harnessing the essence of that all-inclusive attitude and combining it with music that soars astoundingly higher than above-average quality – I can only imagine incredible success and amazing results coming through a project as passionate, well-performed and well-intentioned as this is. A serious pleasure to listen to at each and every moment…Language & Lyrics gets a fully extended thumbs-up from me; I loved every minute of this.
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