Appellation D'Origine Controlee - La Bottine Souriante
La Bottine Souriante “The Smiling Boot” refers to the trademark separation of toe and sole on the most well-worn work boots. But, while the band has been building rave reputations and a diehard fan base since way back in 1976, they are by no means worn out on Appellation D’Origine Controlee, their first new studio album in seven long years. The title of the disc translates as "controlled designation of origin". It’s the French certification granted to wine, cheeses, butter and agricultural products from French language places of origin like Quebec. No, far from their past due date, La Bottine Souriante proudly certify themselves ripe and ready to enjoy, aged to perfection like the finest vintage. Certainly fans must have had their doubts about this eventuality considering the departure of accordionist and La Bottine personality, Yves Lambert in 2003 (who has moved on to another exciting Franco-flavored project called le Bebert Orchestra). Big boots to fill (pun definitely intended), but one man does not make this ten piece what Dirty Linen magazine once unabashedly called "The best band in the world.” Lambert’s vocals, button accordion and podorythmie (foot-stomping rhythm) have been wonderfully refurbished with the charismatic talents of Benoit Bourque, a 25 year veteran of Quebecois traditional music. And, as La Bottine’s cult-like following will attest, traditional is merely a jumping off point for a group that showcases the sounds of its heritage in a framework of stylings from many others. Building on a base or bass, if you will, of B-string big bottom from funky jazzman Francois Marion, and the aforementioned foot stomping, La Bottine’s music layers increasing textures on top. Horn shots from their signature four piece brass section punctuate the melodies while modern flourishes of Fender Rhodes and Hammond B3 counterpoint the folk-rooted vocal tradition of answer and call. Jazz, funk, Latin and rock may or may not make an appearance at any given whim, but it’s that tight as a drum, inescapable groove that has always made La Bottine percolate with sonic depth and clarity. After seven years, Appellation D’Origine Controlee arrives with a seal of approval from the band that fans can smile about rather than kick to the curb.