Lisa LeBlanc's 'Chiac Disco' Is a Dance of Humour and Homage

BY Bruno CoulombePublished Mar 17, 2022

Along with pioneers Radio Radio and up-and-coming acts like Les Hay Babies and P'tit Belliveau, Lisa LeBlanc has been at the forefront of the Acadian music boom of the 2010s. Building on her trademark wit and humour, LeBlanc's new album Chiac Disco harks back to the dancing days of the 1970s, combining funky rhythms with her Acadian dialect to produce something colourful and exuberant.
LeBlanc has always had a knack for telling stories with ironic humour in a way that feels like she's poking fun at herself, while also exposing our own quirks. In the past, she would treat her songs with more down-to-earth arrangements, using the banjo as a reminder of her folk roots. This time, everything feels bigger, with shiny orchestration and dance pop rhythms that instantly recall acts like the Emotions or Boney M.
In a sense, Chiac Disco continues on the same path as LeBlanc's 2020 EP as Belinda, It's Not a Game, It's a Lifestyle, which drew on a wide range of influences from new wave to electronic dance music. Here, the result is more cohesive, as the whole album sounds like a nod to another era.

Opener "Pourquoi faire aujourd'hui" sets the tone in brilliant fashion, with kitschy strings and spacey keyboards that recall the sparkling allure of Chic. Standout track "Veux-tu rentrer dans ma bubble?" is more funk-driven, powered by an irresistible groove and punching horn riffs à la James Brown. With its overt references to 1970s music, Chiac Disco lies somewhere between pastiche and homage. Although LeBlanc and co-producer Benoît Morier approach their topic with a certain sense of derision, it's also clear that they love their material.

They don't just borrow from funk and disco. The intro of "Dans l'jus" recalls the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, while the chord sequence of the quieter "Me semble que c'est facile" unmistakably evokes Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The only downside is that the tone feels a bit less personal at times, as if LeBlanc was portraying a character.
Lyrically, Chiac Disco largely opts for humour and lightness, as LeBlanc offers clever observations on modern life: the joys of procrastination, gossiping at Tim Hortons, Acadian cuisine ("pas d'épices, juste du sel," she sings on "Le menu acadien") or when leaving the couch feels like an impossible quest. The truth is that these texts would have worked just fine with the folk-trash that used to characterize LeBlanc's style, but imbuing them with sparkling instrumentation gives them a totally different feel.
Chiac Disco works best when its joy is paired with a certain feeling of grandeur, as on "Entre toi pi moi pi la corde de bois" which echoes the sweeping arrangements of Lee Hazlewood. But because it's more polished, the album doesn't quite match the intensity and grit of the Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?. Still, its total sense of freedom and abandon make for a very rewarding listen.

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