If you’re looking for an eccentric and earnest musical adventure, Sophie Bijjani is the perfect guide, helping you along the path to Feu d’grand vent, her soon-to-be released debut album. Following a stint of performances in California, the Gatineau-based artist has made her way back to her hometown in order to release this eclectic collection of truly original songs. As with all great journeys, the album defies categorization: while some songs dance on the edges of gypsy-esque absurdity, the work as a whole is theatrical nostalgia suffused with sunshine and vivacity.
Though the collection of songs on the album vary widely, they are connected by Bijjani’s contagious musical disposition. She is totally comfortable letting it all fly as she aims for seemingly unfettered expression. These accumulated musings of a roaming spirit are creatively assembled and arranged, but never come across as anything but totally candid. You can even hear Bijjani’s smile while she’s singing.
For instance, the opening track “Dirty Chai” erupts with personality and takes the listener on an outlandish, whimsical sonic journey. Bijjani’s mischievous dazzle shines throughout as she combines the weird and the wonderful in this contagiously playful tune. While her singing is the focal point of the song – and indeed the whole album — the presence of romping piano, vocal manipulation, undulating bass, and ambient noise samples nicely enhance the track.
It’s an approach that carries into “Doubt,” a blithe and rhythmic tune whose substance is folded over into itself, like a song within a song, without ever losing its coherence or its momentum.
Through lavish production and electronic textures, “Doubt” reinforces the album’s overall playful, carnivalesque character.
This musical diversity is equally evident in the titular “Feu d’grand vent”, which calls back to French pop chanteuses of the ‘50s and ‘60s without losing the album’s contemporary feel. Bijjani sashays through the song, accompanying her own animated vocals with a looping piano chaperon. This and the other Francophone track, “Chasseur l’ennui”—itself a standout, with its mix of bass, ukulele, and vocals—are distinct from the rest of the album. They are, at their core, examples of stripped-down songwriting and arrangements that reveal Bijjani’s knack for a catchy melody and singular vocal dramatism.
Ottawa has such a well-developed and eclectic range of artists, but Bijjani’s music resides distinctly outside the box. This debut album is bold, fresh, and exciting, and we strongly urge you check out Bijjani’s release party show for yourself on February 27 at 7pm @ Cabaret La Basoche (120 rue Principale, Gatineau). Give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram and be sure to check out her website, where you can purchase her new tunes.