Éric Lapointe is the most famous rock performer in Quebec, and has been around since his surprising debut record, Obsession, almost twenty years ago, which made him very famous even though many radio stations refused to play his songs at first, due to his raw vocals. The mixture of sweating hard rock anthems, country songs, emotional ballads, and a couple of well chosen cover songs created a wide fan base around the charismatic performer who unites old country fans, housewives, and younger generations of my age or even younger. Despite his image as a bad boy due to his alcohol problems, this l’enfant terrible has become everybody’s darling over the years.
During recent years, his music has become somewhat predictable despite a few recent hits. Éric Lapointe tried to add something new to his back catalogue with two compilations entitled Ailleurs, composed of rare songs and collaborations with artists such as Quebec’s biggest pop icon Céline Dion, pop singer Isabelle Boulay, and the charismatic First Nations’ performer Florent Vollant. He performed with the critically acclaimed Montreal Symphony Orchestra and put out a live record with them. He also released a new album entitled Le Ciel De Mes Combats that had its moments, but didn’t get as much attention and success as his previous releases. The rebellious rocker had become rather mature, sophisticated, and even slightly boring in the eyes of many.
The new record, Jour De Nuit, was announced as a more authentic record with a rawer and more hard rock-oriented edge that would go back to the roots. I was eager to discover this harder side of the singer that I had always preferred in songs like “Priez!”. In the end, Éric Lapointe didn’t change the formula at all. The opener “Donnez-moi Du Gaz” is a tight rock song with sing-along passages and a lot of energy, but the music, the vocal performance, and the lyrics immediately recall several past efforts of the singer’s. Despite some similarities to past successes, this track is the most convincing one on here, along with the catchy country rock anthem “Faire Et Refaire” and “Tout Ce Que Je Veux”, a warm and catchy rock ballad with string passages, a shy guitar solo, and hooks somewhere between The Police and maybe Turbo-era Judas Priest.
As soon as the second song, “Homme Sauvage” kicks off, one realizes that this is another predictable record from a predictable performer. After the rawer opener comes the epic atmospheric ballad with string sections for the bored soccer moms, whose biggest dream is to escape from their everyday lives by spending Christmas and the New Year in Mexico, Cuba, or Costa Rica. In fact, Éric Lapointe has by now given several concerts in those places for the exiled Quebeckers who try to escape from the winter each year.
In the end, Éric Lapointe offers ten solid but highly predictable songs, and even the usual couple of surprises included on the previous album can’t be found here. A true hit can’t be found here at all, and it’s definitely not the lifeless country ballad and first single “Ça Me Manqué” that sounds like a stereotypical and weak copy of “La Bartendresse”. Jour De Nuit is probably the singer’s weakest release to date, along with the overrated À L’ombre De L’ange. Despite its obvious flaws, I still happen to like this record because I’m an old fan and can’t help but find the singer’s unique vocals andimage quite addicting and even charming. As a fan and collector, I will purchase this release as I have done with all his other works, but occasional or new fans should ignore this record. The compilation record N’importe Qui is good enough for anybody who just wants to own one record with the singer’s greatest hits. If you prefer a real studio album, go for the groundbreaking Invitez Les Vautours to start with. As it is now, the new album lacks a true highlight and is only solid average at best.