Romance, romance, more romance and even more romance pretty sums up Va et Vien, the album from Haitian singer Tantan. The candle-lit musical fare starts off with “Lè Youn Fanm Renmenw” (When A Woman’s In Love With You), a dreamy ballad. The song emphasizes the need for men to appreciate women. It’s a theme we’ve heard before, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it over and over!
The star on Va et Vien is the singer himself. He has this luscious falsetto…think the Debarge guys, Prince, the Jacksons, and classic R&B from the 1990s. On the song “Ranmase Yayad” (Stay Grinding?), he wiggles his way through the provocative lyrics with so much flirtatiousness and charm that you nearly forget that this song is about hip-grinding.
“M’ta Kouri Avew” (Feel Like Running Away With You) would be a really great song to do a workout couple-style, don’t you think? Of course, he means literally wanting to steal her away for some romantic undertaking. I like idea…old-school romance…A man is so smitten…he literally wants it to be just you and him…But of course not in a stalker, possessive sort of way—or sociopath way—
The same theme of “I-love-you-so-much-girl-I-want-it-to-be-just-the-two-of-us permeates “One on One” too. There’s less R&B on this track, more of a tropical Caribbean feel to it, and a great deal of instrumentation.
“Noir et Blanc” really disrupts the jovial mood that was all over Va et Vien. But everything can’t be sugar, fairy tales, and smiles. The song treats the theme of a deteriorating romance. Love for him used to be bright like the colors of the rainbow, and now, it’s black and white. Has the narrator grasped that black means a combination of all colors known to humanity? “I prefer love that’s sparkled with all colors/I stay crying all night,” he sings at one point. But what is the narrator doing to bring the colors back? He seems to be blaming his mate for everything in the lyrics. In the opening of the song, the narrator looks back at life and love at seventeen and the rose-filled early days of the romance. But he can’t be disillusioned if life has changed since then!
“Noir et Blanc” is probably Va et Vien‘s best track in terms of vocal delivery. The singer lets his voice speak (and sing) for itself. Or so I thought, until I listened to “Love Don’t Live Here”. Is this song a follow-up to “Noir et Blanc”? Well, it has a French Caribbean vibe to it. In any case, the lyrics have nearly the same despondency expressed in “Noir et Blanc”. It’s definitely the most impassioned song on the album. For a second or two, I thought the singer was going to break down sobbing.
“Pa Palé Pawol Sa a” (Let’s Not Talk About This) is worth a listen, not just because it’s a decent song, but because it’s a musical teaming of the singer with Alan Cave, a fellow Haitian music legend. Hah, I like that lyric line about things being so sweet that you’d think there was an insulin overdose. “Pa Palé Pawol Sa a” is not the only duet on the album by the way. There’s also a song called “Mango Totote” with the singer Shabba.
“Always On Time” (featuring Danielle Orange) reminded me of those Eighties and Nineties ballads you listen to on classic R&B stations. Think New Edition, Kut Klose, Xscape, or Hi-Five. So after being hopeless about love in “Love Don’t Live Here”, and nearly hopeless in “Noir et Blanc”, the narrator finally appreciates a woman’s mature love in “Fanm Dous Mwen” (Sweet Lady). Better late than never! “Fanm Dous Mwen” is upbeat in tone and delivery. It should have been sequenced towards the end of the album.
The minute I saw the title “Do Ré Mi Fasil Tankou Dlo”, I was expectant. Is it going to be another one of those songs about young love? Remember music class in elementary school? The Doremi song? Except that it’s been transformed into love song about romantic bliss. I’ll put it alongside “Noir et Blanc”, “Fanm Dous Mwen”, “Love Don’t Live Here” as the album’s most worthy songs.
Well, there you have it, folks! Tantan Va et Vien!
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