- In-person event
Daniel Bélanger is back with Mercure en mai, an album that celebrates human connection and unexpected joys. Words attentive to astonishment, to suddenness, to those “little Californias” that slumber deep within us; music gliding between the minimal and the lush, with boomerang motifs and secret passages: everything here references the unexpected, things that elude schedules and logic.
Mercure en mai
On a chilly morning in February 2021, in the midst of the umpteenth wave of the pandemic, Daniel Bélanger was walking down a street in the Mile-Ex district. With his hands deep in his pockets and his shoulders up around his ears, he was perplexed by the thousand and one consequences of the health crisis, especially by the impossibility of sitting down in a warm café, as he likes to do.
After ordering a latte to go from a coffee bar where he’s a regular, he recognized someone among a small group of onlookers gathered around a public bench. Greetings, introductions, the beginning of a discussion: Daniel Bélanger didn’t know it yet, but he’d just made some real friends, with whom, through conversations over a steaming mug, he got through the weeks of lockdown that lay ahead.
The song Soleil levant was born of that meeting, “between a coffee and a good conversation,” “rebuilding the world one piece at a time.” You could even say that each of Mercure en mai’s ten tracks arose from just such a random encounter, like a product of the unexpected. Words attentive to astonishment, to suddenness, to those “little Californias” that slumber deep within us; music gliding between the minimal and the lush, with boomerang motifs and secret passages: everything here references the impromptu, things that elude schedules and logic.
The goldsmith’s precision of his productions may give the impression that everything Daniel Bélanger does is carefully thought out and framed, but quite the opposite is true. “The songs just come to me,” he says. “I’m the first to be surprised by the path they take me on.” The rockabilly Chic de ville (2013), the dreamy Paloma (2016), the cinematic Travelling (2020)—each of his records is essentially an exercise in freedom, guided by intuition and whose substance he doesn’t fully grasp until a few years later. Once again, the singer–songwriter has gleaned the raw material for his songs from the days and the streets, clearly influenced by the health crisis we’ve just come through and the need for escape it has instilled in each of us.
There’s Joie, which tells us of great inner waves, of their “liquid diamond” that goes straight to the heart. There’s Dormir dans l’auto, which celebrates “the end of dormancy and the beginning of hope.” Awakenings to the moment, narrow escapes, incursions into instrumental territory (Oh no!!!,” “Hiatus): Daniel Bélanger’s 12th album follows the playful and introspective thread of his repertoire, while at the same time offering a snapshot of where we are collectively, with our thirst to be elsewhere, to escape, our need to pound the pavement.
He’s accompanied by a light team consisting of Guillaume Doiron (bass) and Robbie Kuster (drums), who made a few stops at Daniel’s studio before Pierre Girard mixed this mesmerizing Mercure en mai, the breath of oxygen we all sorely needed.