Updated: Feb 18
Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙂𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙝𝙤𝙜 𝙈𝙖𝙮 - 𝘼𝙢𝙖𝙪𝙧𝙮 𝙇𝙖𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝘽𝙚𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙚𝙧
Charles starts to wonder about his own abilities when being confronted with the raw talent of extremely gifted musician, Amaury Laurent Bernier. A chap so well overdue for review.
Oh dear. Oh Lord. I can’t do it anymore. I have lost my spark. I am no good anymore.
These thoughts WILL occasionally run through the fragile minds of artists, sometimes more often than not. This could happen just by chance one day, due to absolutely nothing at all. But this happened to me today when having heard the lead track of Amaury Laurent Bernier’s 34 𝐷𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝐿𝑜𝑐𝑘𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛 demi-album. The song is called Groundhog May. Amaury Laurent Bernier is not only a bit of a mouthful with much mispronunciation, but also the most enviably talented soul. ALB (abbrvtd fr obvs rsns) has written, produced, arranged and sung for feature films, series and commercials, as well as having his own solo career as an artist in his own right. My envy and hatred for this brilliant bastard grows. He is basically what I want to be. He does what I want to do. He makes a living from his art. To all of us trying our guts out, ALB is living proof that it is indeed possible. Having grown up in Paris, he has since moved to Hamburg, Germany - whilst I won’t mention the war, this is famously the live birthplace (figuratively speaking) of the rock ’n’ roll combo, The Beatles - if it’s good enough for them…
Let’s get into a little music, shall we? Groundhog May is immediate and yet different. There are echoes of - that band again - The Beatles, Grizzly Bear, Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra and Field Music. ALB counts us in. A deep piano octave slams down the grounding, backed by thick but tight overdriven guitars. The drums are slow and dry. A mandolin (?) takes the spotlight!! The instruments play off against each other like a tired see-saw. The loose timing is tightly swung. ALB’s vocals sneak in surprisingly like an eager yet mature child. In fact, it is not easy to discern gender here - it is neither one nor the other. It is simply a beautifully clipped and refined performance. I can’t even work out if his natural register is unusually high, or if this is sung in falsetto. Either way, who cares! It sounds too cosy and interesting for words! Not to mention sublime.
Groundhog May might pass you by as a nice, simple song. It is anything but. Sure, it is nice, but it is so much more than that. Its delicate intricacy and layered lattice are realistically disguised as simplicity to the common ear. I have always thought this the answer in the best pop music. The closest I can get to a vague formula. When something sounds simple, but actually isn’t. Both in production and musicality. I am personally sometimes guilty of going too far in my writing and making things a little too clever, because I can. But through the years, I hone - and this is evidently exactly what Amaury Laurent Bernier has been doing. Honing his art and his craft.
ALB’s brilliance lies in his subtlety in production and his inspired melodies and chord progressions. He knows when to hook your inquisitive eyebrow with his very own handmade fishing line. He knows when to let you slump into your very own familiar, comfy armchair. It is a difficult balance, but he feels it. This is that “gift” we hear about from time to time. Sure, he will put in a great deal of work to achieve these results, but ultimately he is merely adjusting and finally polishing a gift from the heavens.
As the song progressively moves along like a waxing, waning and warping conveyor belt, it feels like we speed through movements of a deftly ornamented classical mini-symphony. One has been pulled through a bright and intriguing journey in less than three minutes. It is not exhausting, but comfortably exhilarating. The final minute brings an excellent syncopated unison with the bass, kick, guitars and piano, only to be aggressively poked regularly by the snare, handclap and finger click. ALB’s harmonies are reminiscent of a vocoder, but I suspect are all manually and individually recorded - divine!
I also suspect that Amaury Laurent Bernier will only keep getting better. And before I feel any worse, I must turn this resentment into inspiration and maybe even competition! I am in genuine awe. Of course, I only joke about this resentment. Almost only…
Listen to 𝙂𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙝𝙤𝙜 𝙈𝙖𝙮 HERE!
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