The TD Musiparc tour where artists such as France d’Amour, 2Frères, Marc Hervieux, and Laurence Jalbert have sung in front of a limited number of people in their cars, has been a resounding success.
“I’ve never enjoyed being honked at so much,”, Guylaine Tanguay recently joked about her shows in Gatineau, Bromont, Mercier, and the bay of Beauport. Chances are high that such will be the case again on July 19, during the latest iteration of this exceptional series, in Mirabel. “And from now on, if I get honked at when I’m driving, I’ll blow them kisses!”
Whatever the case may be, it’s not a straightforward experience for all musicians. “We were worried, I was afraid it would be over-regulated and procedural – so much so that the whole fun side of music would be lost,” says Tanguay. “Normally, we adapt to our audience and find our energy in there. If the audience members step out of their car, they won’t hear a thing. There’s no amplification onstage, you have to tune in a radio frequency to hear the music, so you have to stay in your car. It’s the whole point of the exercise. The musicians hear themselves through their in-ear monitors; otherwise it’s completely silent onstage.”
Tanguay, whose new album is simply titled Country, has returned to the top of the charts with a cover of Zachary Richard’s “L’arbre est dans ses feuilles” (“The Tree is in Its Leaves”), as well as several lyrics of her own – a first for her – and she’s adamant about the importance of her shows. “There are no down times,” she says. “There are even songs that we play only partially, we play medleys that last up to 12 minutes, and I try to talk as little as possible. I’m not comfortable with lengthy song introductions, I’m more of a show-off, even when I’m singing a ballad.”
“I’m an intense one”
That’s something Tanguay does with a lot of assurance on Country. If you need some convincing, just listen to “Je m’envolerai” or “L’incontournable,” which talks about mourning, and was mostly written by Tanguay. She’s slowly developing a strong repertoire of softer songs that create a nice counterbalance to her Dolly Parton-esque “working nine to five” brand of energy. “I’m an intense one,” says the 48-yeal-old musician.
Made in Québec but completed in Nashville, Country reveals the strength of a songwriter who’s worked with Jonathan Godin, himself no stranger to country music. “Initially, I asked him to write a country line-dance song, but not specifically with me in mind,” says Tanguay. “I told him to write for a guy, because I have a more masculine attitude onstage in the way I sing and act. I’m in heels and wearing makeup, but I’ll tell you for sure: I forget I’m a woman when I’m onstage. I’m one of the boys, and I stomp my feet hard enough to break my ankles!”
“On “Allez venez danser” (“Come Dancing”), I wanted a Lac St-Jean family party vibe, the kind of party where you expect to be 15 people but you end up with 75 guests.” On “La chasse” (“The Hunt,” a recurring theme for male country singers), she expresses a completely different opinion. “I hate hunting!” she says. “I was born in September and my village [Girardville, Lac St-Jean] would be empty for my birthday! I’ve wanted to write my own songs all my life, but I was afraid they would be too sad or first-degree. I like songs that are easily understandable.”
Tanguay forged a creative partnership with her guitarist, Sébastien Dufour. “He knows what I want and how things work in my mind,” she says. “I wanted more refined country, with several nuances in the textures that would remain the same onstage. I want to ‘de-tacky-fy’ country music.”
Dufour is far from a one-armed guitarist. His solo on “Mon Yodeling” is in a category of its own, and has the twang and the panache of a Junior Brown or a Bobby Hachey! The man could work in Nashville tomorrow morning.
Is Tanguay comfortable with her moniker as Québec’s Queen of Country? Knowing that Renée Martel is the Queen ex officio, have the two queens met? “I’m not the Queen, I’m not comfortable with that moniker,” she says. “I’ve told her, as a joke, that the crown is hers and I’m not interested in the throne!”