It’s not quite possible to review Jenny Salgado’s album and not bring up the name of Lauryn Hill. Like Hill, Salgado started out as the only female member of a hip-hop trio (Canada’s Muzion, to Hill’s The Fugees). Like Hill, Salgado, known during her heyday with the group as J.Kyll, saw it necessary to come out with her own solo album. Unlike Hill though, and unlike other solo artists who venture out on their own, she didn’t avoid recruiting her former bandmates, if only for a collabo or two (they sing the chorus on the song “Qui va te Donner?” (Who’s Gonna Give You).
Salgado’s sultry and smokey soprano is so hot throughout the album, it’s a wonder she didn’t go solo any sooner. Songs like “Stockholm” make the best of it, squeezing purrs out of Salgado’s soaring voice. The song speaks of internal chaos and emotional distress, and pain that won’t subside any minute soon. With lyrics like, “J’ai plus d’soleil, j’bouge plus…/Ce soir mon coeur est claustrophobe/”I no longer have sunshine/Am no longer moving/Tonight my heart is all claustophobic”), the agony is indeed great. Will there ever be an end to all this pain? Salgado sings further: “Je sens bruler l’enfer et le ciel est si haut/J’entends ruer la mer qui ne laisse plus de sillons/I feel hell burning and heaven seems so far high up/I hear the sea beat but it leaves no furrows”. Melancholy to the core, the songs begs for multiple listens in spite of its depressing tone.
Salgado can be so sensuous with her voice, that even without the torrid story line, the song “Toute Sa Vie”–an upbeat ballad about a nightlife prostitute and alcohol fiend’s last chances at love—would still have carried its punches. “Qui Va te Donner” has got to be one the album’s most standout songs. Salgado co-wrote it with her brother Stanley, and co-produced it with André and Martin Courcy who play guitar, bass and piano, respectively on the album. The song intersects French lyrics with Creole ones, and integrates Haitian traditional folk song choruses. “Et Tu Te Suivras”, another outstanding track, explores spirituality and the uncertainties that sometimes mar the mind of the believer. Salgado sings: “Même si il y a rien au bout de la route/Je n’ai plus aucun doute/Car je vivrais pour la route/Even if there’s nothing at the end of the road/I no longer have any doubts/Because I’m living for the road.”
Some members of groups go solo to feed their inner ego. You can tell that Salgado did it because she had a story to tell—a story she tells well with …Et Tu Te Suivras.