Web Wandering: Nolwenn Leroy

One unintended use of YouTube is as a music sharing platform. I’ve found that many of the songs I’d like to listen to once in a while can be found there, sometimes as an actual music video, sometimes with custom-edited video to go with it, and sometimes with just a still of the album cover. I’ll go in to listen to one song, and sometimes spend an entire evening with YouTube as my radio station.

Occasionally I’ll depart from the music I know and start wandering. The other night I ended up farther afield than I intended, and when one particular song stuck with me enough to call me back, I found I didn’t know how to get back. I couldn’t even find it in browsing history. Grrr….

I tried again today, hoping to recreate my trail. I failed. I tried again in history. There it was! I just hadn’t looked back far enough! So allow me to introduce you to Nolwenn Leroy. I know very little about her, except she sings in French, and has covered a variety of styles throughout her career, including some Celtic music. This little ditty seems a little Cajun/gypsy in style, and it’s extremely catchy. She’s got a Moira Kelly/Elizabeth Hurley thing going on, but more importantly she’s got a great voice. This video reminds you how everything sounds better in French. I have no idea what she’s singing about, but it’s fun!

According to a review on Amazon, her album Bretonne, which this song is from, has sparked a flood of interest in the French province of Brittany. Leroy was the French equivalent of an American Idol winner, but when her pop career began to flag she decided to reinvent herself by exploring her musical roots. Not only did the resulting album, which explores the various cultural influences of Brittany, help put the region back on the map, it established Leroy as a serious musician in the World Music category.

Watch the video if you like. If you’d like some more, check out her website.

In case you’re interested, the song I originally went searching for was Electric Counterpoint III (Fast), by Steve Reich. It’s about the only minimalist piece of music I recall liking, and even this one is perhaps an acquired taste. I enjoy the interplay of the patterns to change up the flavor of the piece, and the chord changes heighten the tension.

I also found a modern remix based on the same piece. It occurs to me that remixes are today what variations were in more traditional eras of music. At first I found this piece annoying, but I decided to remain open-minded and give it a chance. If you don’t worry about hearing a favorite song reset with drum track it’s actually pretty good as ambience music. I’m rather ambivalent about the accompanying video, though I do admire the people’s ability to maneuver around each other at high speed without killing each other.

Speaking of ambiance music, while in my wanderings, I found a composer I may start using as background music as I write: BrunuhVille. The pieces fit well with a fantasy setting, and seem as if they were written to serve as a movie soundtrack or tone poem. They (I can’t tell if it’s a he or a she) have them all posted on YouTube, but they’re also for sale as downloads on their bandcamp.com site.

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3 Responses to Web Wandering: Nolwenn Leroy

  1. Dan Stratton says:

    Bummer. Pandora doesn’t know about her yet. Thanks for the find. I’ll have to ask Caitlin what it all means, but it is fun to listen to.

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