Montreal duo Bet.e and Stef return after a lengthy hiatus with a new record and some engaging new ideas.
Winter was long and unforgiving.
Spring, or what has so far passed for spring in Atlantic Canada, has not been significantly better.
Like so many, I dream of beautiful sunny days, gentle breezes and just taking off my goshdarn snowboots for the last time.
That may still take a while.
But you can take yourself away from all of this, if only for a brief period, with the right piece of music.
That piece of music for me at this point in time is “Seeds” from Montreal indie act Bet.e and Stef.
Slated for release next week, Seeds is a record awash in mellow grooves, intoxicating worldbeat rhythms and some very sweet vocal work.
There are elements of reggae, bossa nova, samba, soul, traditional jazz and what they reference at one point as electro-folk.
It’s very smooth, very easy on the head.
It’s like someone mixed America, Sergio Mendes and Tuck and Patti in a giant mixing bowl, added a little honey and here and there a little salsa.
There are cuts, like the title track, where the vibe is so warm, so inviting, you just have to stop whatever you’re doing and let it roll over you.
Bet.e and Stef have been playing together for over 20 years but took several years off to work on individual projects before they reunited in 2013.
When they did reunite they found not only their old fans waiting for them but the children of those fans who’d grown up listening to their early recordings, two of which had gone gold in Canada.
Fans who attended their post-reunion shows in 2013 and 2014 were treated to new arrangements of some of their favourite songs and the positive feedback they got encouraged them to continue playing around with some new ideas.
“New ideas emerged,” the duo says.
“Playing for audiences allowed us to find our natural groove. Over a few months these sounds became the backbone of our new album.”
“Seeds” features eight new songs, all original. Australian producer/musician Jay Atwill helmed the record and plays guitar on it.
In support of the record, Bet.e and Stef are mounting a tour that will include a performance on the Rio Tinto outdoor stage at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal on July 1st.
It’s well worth your time if you’re looking to put the world on hold and just kick back for awhile. Choice offerings here include Seeds, Rayon, Demystify and Found My Way Home.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-6000, ext. 6057.