Aux alentours' collaborators include drummer Robbie Kuster (Patrick Watson), guitar players Olivier Langevin (Galaxie, Mara Tremblay) and Joe Grass, drummer and percussionist José Major and Karkwa's Louis-Jean Cormier and Julien Sagot. Guitar player Joseph Marchand and keyboard player Denis Faucher, both long-time friends, transformed into singers for this particular occasion. The text for Chanson pour Dan was co-written with Jim Corcoran.
Marie-Pierre Arthur's Aux alentours revolves around fragments of stories that she captured and locked up for evermore in a soul-folk-rock sound, deeply rooted into the ground as it heads for the stars.
Long-awaited follow-up to Marie-Pierre Arthur's 2009 self-titled debut album, this second record, released on February 7th, 2012 via Bonsound Records, was entirely produced by François Lafontaine, who also composed many of the new songs. The renowned keyboardist (Karkwa, Galaxie, 12 hommes rapaillés) has given Aux alentours, an album fuelled by guitars (Si tu savais, Pour une fois, Encore là), its basic drive. François composes with his acoustic guitar and I am very glad that it can be heard on the final result , Arthur says. Other songs lift dust off analog keyboards forever associated with 80s sounds (Chacun pour toi, All right). More than ever, Arthur's music delves into deep-seated folk (Chanson pour Dan) and Motown-inclinations (Emmène-moi).
As on her self-titled debut album, Marie-Pierre Arthur establishes on Aux alentours a tension between the soil and heavens, keeping her soul-folk-rock firmly rooted in the ground thanks to a robust and melodic bass, which inevitably gets hauled up by a melancholic and spellbinding voice. With my bass, I can have fun. On the other hand, my voice corresponds to my more intimate side, as the musician explains.
Marie-Pierre Arthur also reunites with Gaële, who helped out on the first album and co-signs most of the lyrics here. An exceptional understanding, practically symbiotic, brightens this remarkable creative process. We are together in the same room, explains the singer-songwriter, she's on one side, I'm on the opposite with the music. We both bring our own words. The result is a perfect combination of imagery and narrative, of the allusive and the concrete, a nice way of inviting listeners to pour some of their own selves into these songs.
The album's title was inspired on one hand by stories, turmoils and joys collected here and there, raw material for songwriting, and on the other hand by musician friends who inevitably nourish the creative process and with whom she can have fun in the studio as well as on the road.