Collecting Brel (Vol. 1) – The Album

While working towards my ambition of translating the music of Jacques Brel, I began recording in an attempt to update Brel’s music for a modern, English-speaking audience…

In little over two months I recorded 17 Brel songs, with 16 completed and one awaiting lyrics. Initially these were for personal use, but after playing them on repeat I decided that they were good enough for the public!

Take a listen below…

How I chose the songs…

Almost all of Brel’s songs are fantastic, and I am still working towards a full translation of his works. With this collection I started with some of his best known songs (‘Amsterdam’, ‘My Death’, ‘The Song Of Jacky’ and ‘Mathilda’) as the translations that existed gave a pretty good idea as to the lyrics in general, and needed the least amount of adjusting to make them align more with Brel’s original words.

Next, I picked some of my personal favourites (‘Coming Of Age’ (‘L’Age Idiot’), ‘Clara’ and ‘I’m Here’ (‘J’Arrive’)) and tried to update the sound while at the same time maintaining the lyrical integrity of the songs.

If I’d had an orchestra on hand, I would have used it(!) – but I’ve had to stick with more blues, folk and rock instrumentation on these tracks. Nonetheless, Brel’s lyrics remain powerful and impactful.

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