Lorraine Klaasen’s new album, Nouvelle Journée, is a feel-good album that delves into jazz, blues, gospel, soul and pop influences. It is anchored in rich South African sounds which pay homage to her background and her mother, Thandie Klaasen, a legendary South African jazz musician. Lorraine sings about politics in the world, the pain of the poor and less privileged, hope, new beginnings, and love in languages ranging from French, to South African tribal languages (Isizulu, Sotho, Tsonga, Xhosa), to English. The album cover shows Lorraine draped in beautiful sunshine and rainbow colors that reflect the vibrant tracks, crowned with a Mother Africa head tie that radiates the rawness and sincerity of the music throughout the album.
The musical journey starts with “Nouvelle Journée,” which means “new day” in French. The crunchy guitar riffs and folk-like melodies of the accordion, blessed with a beautiful, youthful female chorus, will captivate you throughout this rock-inspired song, which later gets spiced up with some African percussion.
Lorraine’s journey continues with “Ke Tshepile Bafatsi,” featuring soukous improvisations of Congolese-style guitar riffs and drum rhythms, with Lorraine singing in a South African language. She sings about Africa in the song “Home Sweet Home,’’ which has an unmistakable reggae vibe from the bass guitar to the rim shot attack on the snare.
A long-time resident of Montreal, Lorraine maintains her connection to South Africa with a throw-back marabi song, “Township Memories.” This song demonstrates her inspiration from Miriam Makeba, and how well Lorraine has preserved the classic sound of township music, which is felt throughout the entire album.
Full of sincerity, youthful energy, and matured soul, Nouvelle Journée will long be enjoyed and appreciated for its roots in the tradition of South African township music.