Benoit Sellam, Billy Amzal and Yonathan Ebguy make up the French ethereal/folk band One For Jude. Distributed by Audioglobe and available across Europe in fine record stores, those of us on the other side of the sea can order Figures through www.netbeat.com and have it shipped over the waters to our waiting hands. Performing live throughout France and a few other countries around it, the group has reworked two of their previous EP release songs, Goodboy and Inside, to appear on Figures, and added seven new tracks that remain ethereal and folky in nature and enlists the help of accordionist Pierre Ribaute and the trumpet of Sol Invictus member Eric Rogers.
The sound is very minimal and might seem slightly bland because of it, but it is cleanly arranged and very nice to chill out to. Vocals are bright but hidden beneath the guitars and beats. Sometimes it is too far behind, but it does highlight the music and create an atmospheric effect. Lyrical content is slightly repetitive, but steeped in analogies and meaning.
Highlights of the album include Refuge, a soft folk song. The repetitive nature of the lyrics here is very apparent, but it is easily looked past because they're well written and poetic, the accordion and trumpet portions taking the track into periods of comforting melancholy, like a great loss that in your mind finally reaches the time of acceptance and moving on. Goodboy is a minimal track with soft male vocals done well, the minimalism helping to support the soft nature unlike much of today's acts that try to push as much out of their throats as possible. Screeching guitar portions breathe life into the otherwise moody and dark sound of the track.
On the downside, I didn't enjoy Journey much at all. Use of flats and chord/progression clashes set the song completely off kilter. Vocals are baritone to bass level and don't have a melody to anchor to due to the flat/clash nature of the instrumentation. Therefore they come out disembodied, disturbing, and not in a dark-sombre way but an annoying way. Being that One For Jude is a band out of France, by track 7 we reach some lyrics of that language. Litanie is a brightly vocaled track, but backing vocalists come in with a bass-rumble style similar to that we saw in the track before, Journey. It damages the bright style of the original vocalist. The sudden ending breaks the track into splinters.
One For Jude, especially the pretty French vocals regardless of the fact that I can't understand them simply because French always will be a beautiful language on the ears, is something you put on to chill out, calm down and relax. It's folk nature and acoustic style is comforting while melancholy, and while there are a few rough spots on Figures, there are also a few gems as well.
Post: Billy Amzal, 47, Chemin Du Clocher d' Aulnay, 93320, Pavillons-sous-bois, France
Telephone: (33) 0660131991