Jabbour Takes us on a Trip in Time with Saint-Bernard

Fans of Cajun, Irish fiddle and Quebec Folk will be able to find musical solace in Jabbour’s most recent studio effort. The Montréal quartet—which is currently composed of Guillaume Jabbour, Bill Collier, Bill Gossage and Carl Rufh—released Saint-Bernard on May 12, which serves as the follow-up to their 2016 debut Round The Clock. This new record features 14 new tracks, with 12 originals and 2 covers that are guaranteed to feel like a trip back in time through a distinctive sound that combines a contemporary musical arrangement and colourful storytelling. 

Produced by veteran drummer John McColgan, the band benefitted from his wisdom, as they were destined to make a great product from the get-go. What’s more, the album features several guest appearances on violin, accordion and percussions by local musicians who complement the already seasoned collective that makes Jabbour. Together, they combine their strengths to create the songs featured on Saint-Bernard. The album title, according to frontman Guillaume Jabbour, was inspired by an elderly man named Bernard and his daughter the group met while on tour in ClareNova Scotia.   

The songs are rich in content and serve as vehicles to take listeners to another time and place. The second track ‘’ Sur Une Montagne’’ is an opportunity to escape to the Quebec Laurentians; the Simon River in Morin Heights can be heard in the background and Jabbour’s lyrics contain various references known to the Montreal collective imagination, something local listeners are likely to enjoy. The title track ‘’ la canne de Bernard’’ tells the powerful story of an aging man who looks back at his life with nostalgia. The violin’s bluesy licks accompanied with the guitar on drop D tuning give the song space to breathe, thus giving it more depth and making it arguably the magnum opus on this album. 

Other standout tracks in Saint-Bernard include: the upbeat ‘’La Job’’, which is a fun two-step; the simple yet effective ode to childhood “Everywhere Wild” and the chansonnier standard “Les Fruits” feels like it’s straight out of a 1920s movie set and is bound to be a bittersweet favourite.

The two featured covers pay homage to Quebec folk legends Jean-Pierre Ferland and Gilles Vigneault, by keeping the integrity of the songs and arranging them in a way that blends seamlessly with the original tracks.

In all, Saint-Bernard will captivate listeners with its tasteful and easy-listening tunes. A perfect combination of skilled musicians and a gift for storytelling is the winning formula for this quartet, and they use that to take us in a brilliant voyage in time.