Release Date 03/18/2022
(Midnight Special Records) NACC
Even in this post-quarantine period, the records conceived of behind closed doors are pouring out. For her part, Cléa Vincent opens a door leading us to escape with Tropi-Cléa 3 – an escape to a faraway place that can’t be explored without the other, a place colored in warm shades, where radiant light flashes whenever the shadows come to close.
But Tropi-Cléa 3 wasn’t born in confinement. On the contrary, it began unexpectedly in 2017, during a tour in Central America. With her musicians, Cléa trekked across Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras… In no time, the band accrues an audience captivated by the French touch, both romantic and subtle, of Cléa’s music.
Nearly five years later, these moments of celebration, of joy, and sometimes incomprehension are brought to life again with this new EP. Because, despite the generous reception of the second sequence of Tropi-Cléa in April 2020, Cléa was unable to perform it live. It was from this frustration that the idea was born to bring the project into the heart of current events, with a third and ultimate sequence.
These six new titles draw their influence from latin music; from the jazz that makes up Cléa’s roots; and from bossa nova and samba – Cléa having notably been the student of Philippe Baden Powell, son of the great Brazilian composer. If she writes a great part of the texts herself, Cléa chose on the other hand to make this project a collective one, asking her musician friends from the Central America tour to join in the composition: Baptiste Dosdat, Raphaël Thyss, Raphaël Leger... Each envisioned a souvenir song, or at least the outline of one. Confronted with this musical puzzle, Cléa fashioned a record with remarkable coherence, recorded in the Midnight Special Records studio in Seine-et-Marne. It was the “joy of a shared birth,” Cléa summarizes, who admits to having “opened the door to her house to the boys.” And so we dive into an exotica à la française, in the legacy of the French Riviera of the sixties, where Cléa’s admiration for Nougaro, Sébastien Tellier, le Gotan Project, Baden Powell, Tito Puente, and Gilberto Gil shines through.
All this, in a gaucho atmosphere that transports us far away from the dreariness of everyday life.
While Quelque chose qui me chiffonne interrogates social media, asking us to consider the consequences of a self-centered world where we only see through the gaze of others, the instrumental Jamais 2 sans 3 could be the ideal action movie soundtrack. The other tracks tell of long-distance love (Panama Paname), revolution (Recuerdo), the dual presence of Spanish and Maya influence, curfews and impromptu parties (Xela), of human warmth. As for Big Bad Wolf, it reinvents Cléa’s classic Méchant Loup with Robin French from Sugarcane, who had spontaneously taken up the song in English. “I love the timbre of Robin’s voice, so deep, that for me perfectly incarnates the bad wolf Tom Waits-style,” Cléa underlines.
As early as her first album, Retiens mon désir (2016), Cléa Vincent brought us her fresh new pop sound, and succeeded in speaking a universal language through her music – an achievement that she accomplished again in Nuits sans sommeil (2019). Tropi-Cléa 3, which concludes the trilogy with a tropical excursion begun in 2017, represents a new – and bright – demonstration of this.