P’tit Belliveau proves that his musical fusion is no coincidence on ‘A man and his piano’

Posted on March 30, 2022


Acadian artist P’tit Belliveau took the Canadian music scene completely by surprise with his debut album of 2020 Greatest Hits Vol. 1, a surreal collection of comedic songs wrapped in a bizarre country-electro hybrid. Pushing his frankness a step further, followed A man and his piano presents a wider range of influences, while confirming that this first record was no accident.

The task ahead was daunting for Jonah Richard Guimond, former construction worker turned eccentric music star. Greatest Hits Vol. 1 was so unconventional in its approach to songwriting – both corny and sensitive, and marked by an irresistible exuberance – that it could easily have been seen as an oddity on the part of a self-taught musician who only made than having fun. In a way, Guimond had to prove that this success was legit, and it wasn’t all funny lines about blowing your tax return at Taco Bell.

Of course, P’tit Belliveau could have kept the same recipe and released a Greatest Hits Vol. 2. Instead, it takes the best elements of its early days – naivety, its knack for crafting instantly memorable melodies, the richness of production – and pushes into a larger musical universe, one that draws inspiration from the power ballads of the 1980s. 1980, hip-hop, country, funk, traditional folk, video game music, etc.

These different influences cohabit in a sort of organized chaos, often within the same song. The eclectic “Tomorrow” is a prime example: starting with a syncopated beat paired with a hip-hop flow, the song transitions into a pastoral bridge that echoes the progressive folk textures of 1970s acts like Harmonium.

It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that P’tit Belliveau explores different musical territories on this new album. However, what has changed since Greatest Hits Vol. 1 is the confidence he shows in pairing his surreal humor with more “serious” music. The instrumental “Lupines” is a sincere homage to traditional Acadian folk, while the conclusion of “RRSP/Grosse coin” is brilliantly orchestrated.

The greatest achievement of A man and his piano is the perfect blend of live instrument sounds and the digital world of the keyboard. Tracks like “Affairs Will Never Change” and “Meteghan River” are reminiscent of an old Casio piano with their mechanical drum beats and cheesy synth sounds. Yet both are filled with instrumental detail that reveals an intricate approach to production, whether it’s fuzzy electric guitar or surprise violin filler.

Elsewhere, the Nova Scotian demonstrates his ability to turn the most down-to-earth topics into anthems. Opener “I Wish I Had a John Deere” is a jubilant power ballad that channels Foreigner’s arena rock, but with lyrics about owning a tractor and using it to plant seeds and feed everything. the world. Built to a powerful crescendo, the song features an airy chorus in the chorus, an unexpected twist that gives it a “We Are the World” feel, but with rural poetry.

Compared to P’tit Belliveau’s past works, there is a little less space on A man and his piano for the kind of nonchalance that prompted comparisons with Mac DeMarco. But there are still plenty of contagious catchphrases, as evidenced by the playful “Retourner chu nous” with silly keyboards that remind us how incapable Guimond is of taking himself too seriously.

Like his hybrid French and English texts, At the P’tit Belliveau the music exists on the fringes of two worlds: not totally absurd, but never really serious either, and that’s what makes it so refreshing.