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Haiti Mwen Renmenw
By Natalie Jean
Label: Self Released
Released 7/14/2017
Haiti Mwen Renmenw tracks
1. Se Kanaval  
2. Smoking Ke Fan  
3. An Selebre Papa Dambalah  
4. La Pe  
5. Lan Nuit Nou Tounin Lougarou  
6. Endepandans  
7. Saut-D'eau  
8. Marabou  
9. Haiti  
10. L'Amour a L'infini  
Natalie Jean - Haiti Mwen Renmenw
DISCLAIMER: This is a vocal album in a language other than English (Haitian creole, according to my friend, RJ Lannan). It is not wordless vocals and is not Kirtan/Sanskrit chant, (which I have reviewed for Retailing Insight without needing a translation). Album title and song titles are not printed on the cardboard sleeve in English and lyrics were not provided. As a result, I obviously cannot address what these songs are about. This is a review of the music and only the music.

Natalie Jean's Haiti Mwen Renmenw is a collection of songs which vary from world beat/fusion to something more like dance/pop, with some beats approaching techno levels of BPM. The world influences I detect are mostly Caribbean/island in nature, for example, the opening "Se Kanaval" with lively steel drums, and a fast tempo. Jean's voice soars over the rhythm track but the driving force of the melody is mostly from vocals, not accompanying instruments (other than drums, etc.). Rhythm guitar opens "Smoking Ke Fan" along with some sensuous beats and Jean's vocals which are either multi-tracked or someone else is singing (no liner notes make discerning this impossible. Here the world influence seems to be Mediterranean/Spanish in nature, with hand claps and strummed guitar. "An Selebre Papa Dambalah" starts off as an acapella number but erupts with layers of ethnic drums as Jean's voice escalates the power and drama of the song. The track transitions to acapella again and I detect that Jean's vocals are bluesy in nature (but again, without lyrics, this is based on how she sounds, not what she is singing).

"Lapè" brings the most strident tribal beats to the front, and other than the drumming and what I think is jawbone, the vocals are the only thing else on the track. I think the song is meant to be primitive/primal in feel but to be honest, the "purring" noise that Jean vocalizes at times seems odd without knowing what the song is about. Track 6, "Endependans" (I am guessing "Independence") is the rave number with frantic BPM and the kinds of synths you hear on many Euro-pop songs. As a result, this is the least "world" track on the album but honestly, I like it. "Marabou" (later in the album) slows down the tempo dramatically, sounding like a romantic ballad perhaps. Jean's voice is backed by piano and slow tempo beats and I detected a feeling of regret or sadness (again, hindered by no lyrics).

Haiti Mwen Renmenw is a varied assortment of songs that, while not remarkable in any way, is a pleasant enough diversion as long as you either speak the language or just want to listen to some world fusion vocal music with undertones of other genres (e.g. pop, rave, blues). Natalie Jean's vocals are always front and center so she is the main draw here. She really belts out the lyrics at times, so I would guess the subject matter is either highly charged with drama or she just likes to let it rip. I think the production is a bit thin and the album might benefit from more instruments and concentrating more of them on the melodic component of any given song (as stated earlier, the vocals do almost all the heavy lifting for imparting melody on the tracks). But I suppose that may be intentional, i.e. letting the vocals and beats/rhythms be the main focus as part of the world beat influence.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 2/27/2018
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