Relese, Portrait & Feature, Review

The Two, crossed souls

CrossedSouls is the name of The Two's second album. An album with blues engraved in its soul, but with overtones of folk as well.

Sophia Bischoff - 2018-02-13
The Two, crossed souls - ©Christophe Losberger
©Christophe Losberger
The Two, crossed souls - Album Cover
Album Cover
The Two, crossed souls - ©LnPixElle Photography
©LnPixElle Photography

Released on 9 February 2018 after several years of concerts around the world, CrossedSouls confirms The Two's place of prominence in the Swiss musical landscape. The duo from French-speaking Switzerland invited both fans and the curious to the launch of their new creation on Sunday 5 February at the Docks, in Lausanne. At 6 pm, when the music should have already been ringing from the guitars, people were still queuing to get into the venue. The group was only expecting around 300 spectators. Eventually there were 1000 people in the hall.  A sign saying "sold out" was the only welcome that latecomers received. Proof that the group's home-made approach is paying off.

©Bertrand Rey

Craftsmanship and success

Such is the duo’s DNA: make The Two live in the most artisanal way possible Thierry Jaccard handles their career management himself with, for this second album, the help of a distributor in Switzerland, and through tours in Italy and France. "We realized that these were lands that were unknown to us" says Yannick. “We decided to create links in French-speaking Switzerland. Sometimes we tinker around, with varying degrees of success. But we need to understand how it all works." In German-speaking Switzerland, Thierry admits that "the work is starting to pay off, we have a residence at Zermatt Unplugged".

Yannick is a visual arts teacher in the city. "I worked hard on values with my students, on drawing and technique. This really fits in with our way of being. That's why I wanted to use pencil and charcoal on this cover. My wife designed the graphics on this basis." 

 

 

Sing to pray, sing to keep the memory

CrossedSouls is the result of a very personal approach linked to Yannick’s and Thierry’s careers. From the stage of the Bleu Lézard to that of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (USA) in 2015, passing through Croatia, Italy and Denmark along the way, the group toured their music, presented in the form of Sweet Dirty Blues (from the name of their first album), wherever they resonated. For this second opus, The Two attempted, unsuccessfully, to try a more "conventional" recording method. ‘’After the first album we were told that we had to produce our songs up to ‘gel’ with the music business” continues Thierry. "We tried. We did a studio session recording track after track, adding elements each time. When we listened to the results we found that it wasn’t us. It lacked spontaneity and authenticity. So we did it live, as we did with the previous one."

The result? A deliciously vintage intricate work that pierces the listener. The Two looks into the past for ways to tell modern stories. Yannick claims that they are a blues band, "but we don’t look like a blues band. We have the blues in our souls. Blues is singing to pray, singing to keep the memory alive, singing to celebrate. People often forget its roots’’.

 

Stories and souls

"One of our favourite parts of our job is meeting so many new people. This was one of the major influences for CrossedSouls " explains Thierry. To which Yannick adds: "We start from the idea that the artist is a storyteller. After four years, all these anecdotes form this new story, one that we wanted to tell. " 

When the room finally resonates to the rhythm of Raw Man, the public plunges, captivated, into a meditative state, gradually spun like a web. It is then that we discover one of the strengths of the French-Swiss duo, the ability to bring their music alive on stage, but without deviating too far from the original. The songs roll by, the energy in the room going up and down with the tempo of each. Then Lullaby catches the mood. A few days before the launch, Yannick explained to us: “This is the continuation of Live my Life, which is on the first album. I find it amazing how much time parents dedicate to their children, the patience they have, even when they struggle." On stage, the subtlety of the beat combined with the melodies of saxophonist, Xavier Good - one of the surprise guests at the launch - accentuates the feeling of fusion that binds the musicians to their audience.

CrossedSouls is full of tracks that create this sensation, both live and on the record. It is pleasantly consistent, but without artifice. Thierry tells us the story of Over the Mountain: "Nicolas Falquet, a professional skier and producer, takes care of making our videos. He works from the heart. He called us one day to talk about the documentary he had just finished about a 94-year-old climber, asking if he could use our music. It was all working out, with one exception. We were on our way to Mauritius, and had promised to send him a missing piece." Yannick continues: "A few days before the deadline we had nothing. I was cutting down a coconut tree. I was angry, hacking away at the roots of this tree. Then I just heard the music. I heard these working songs. I had the words in my head." The title has pricked up the ears of the entire world. "We had not yet registered it when we discovered lots of comments on the Internet related to vain searches for the piece on Shazam”, Thierry continues. "Over the Mountain had a rather unexpected resonance, with no help from anyone else. We’re really happy to see how a song can become an adventure in itself. And that reinforces our approach of doing most things by ourselves."

LnPixElle Photography

 

Guests of honour

The launch included music that is not on the disk, Such as the compelling collaboration with Julien Feltin on Soulless. Julien Feltin is the man who taught Thierry how to play his instrument. He has also been Yael Naïm's guitarist and is currently the Director of EJMA. On Feeling Blues, we enjoy the jazz-influenced style of trombonist Luca Jeannerat. Manze Pistas is enriched by the sound of a choir from Mauritius (where Joseph Nanette, Yannick’s father, comes from). The homage to Yannick's native island carries a message full of meaning, as he explains: "Manze Pistas means 'eating peanuts'. This track is a political piece on Mauritius. I often get the impression that Mauritians eat peanuts and look around, pretending not to understand what is really going on in their own country."

 

The launch of CrossedSouls is coming to an end, The Two are bonding with their guests over the groovy and compelling song, Smile, providing a conclusion that soothes the hearts of those workers starting to think about Monday morning. The Two’s harmonies are still being talked about, this new album is not to be missed. In the meantime their crossed souls and their guitars await you here and there and, above all, on stage in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and, in particular, at the Cully Jazz Festival, Zermatt Unplugged, the Blues Rules of Crissier, and the other side of the Röstigraben (French-German linguistic divide). 

 

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