The five-piece vocal power house group hailing from Winnipeg and Montreal make their musical intent clear on their fourth release, Christmas Vol. 1.
The holidays came early and they got here first. The bilingual, harmony driven band (Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks, Sacha Daoud, Annick Bremault, and Benoit Morier) blend their classic sounding voices easily around an EP’s worth of original songs and standard covers, creating a quick listen that’s part contemporary vocal pop, light R&B (Last Christmas) and Gallic folk/pop.
A jazzy smoothness runs through this recording, resulting in a laid-back blend of confidence and relaxation. It’s misleading because there’s no slackness or wasted time in the sessions.
The vocals are tight and bask in the reflected resonance. Throw Another Log on the Fire is a skilled demonstration of how they sound sweetly forceful, in sync and chilled out. This track evokes a country western vibe with plaid shirts, pleated skirts and cowboy boots on a floodlit stage.
The shining star here is The Friendly Beasts, an acoustic Christmas ballad that turns into a vocal round. The sparse setting conjures up a plaintive and traditional winter atmosphere, Canadian style – sleigh bells, pines and snow.
Christmas Vol. 1 is a holiday album that avoids the cliché ideas of some seasonal music and focuses on smart material and well-crafted performance.
Ed note: Chic Gamine performs live at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Show tour. Tickets are sold out, however, a waiting list is available at www.ticketseller.ca.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is The Morning Star’s music reviewer. His column, Street Sounds, comes out every Friday.