Joane Hétu is a woman who fulfills herself in various ways: as a mother (two daughters), as a manager (she directs the independent label) and as an artist (composer, librettist, saxophone player and singer). Consequently, whatever she does has a lot of positive energy in it — influxing from the self-realization and self-confidence in a good sense. Her overall message is positive and well balanced: woman’s (over-) sensibility and man’s strength in equal amounts. In her home Montréal Joane belongs to the globally unique community of musicians who have joined forces in pursue of a non-commercial artistic music. Joane’s label gives them a chance to earn a living by playing what they like.
This is her second solo album. As previously, we can hear all musical obsessions of hers thriving on the crossroads between strict composition and free improvisation. Hétu seems to treat her favorite musical styles just like attires and decorates them with her special patches and scraps. And every little thing she is wearing suits her. Joane can persuade us that her setting of the ritual music of Native Canadians, experimental rock, shanties, ballads, sound explorations and non-idiomatic improvisation is intelligent and beautiful. It is worth mentioning that Hétu perceives beauty quite differently than, let us say, Céline Dion. When you are always pleasant and meek you are lying. Beauty has something to do with your life courage and the drive for improving your sensibility and knowledge. Joane also sings of her love experiences, but again uniquely and contrary to our presumptions. No pseudo-inspired let-us-make-love-now easy atmosphere here. No cheap pornography either. Hétu is a mature woman and she opts for the immediate and (some hypocrites would even say–shocking) lyrical description of erotic loving. However, she always manages to control the whole thing within the good taste. Her voice also tells us stories of some moving emotions, friendship, bringing up kids, getting together to overcome everyday problems. No censorship, but no assault either.
This is music for listeners who like to express and receive strong feelings. It is full of fervor. The passion reflects itself in the cover design of wooden sculptures styled after Native American housewares.
Compared to the continually dehumanized and stupid music of recent years, every sound of Joane Hétu seems as a touch of somebody close and beloved. A must at any price.