The Andorran singer provides a hugely enjoyable set of Catalan-language pop rock tunes
Whilst Roure comes from a nation known internationally mostly for its skiing resorts, the Eurovision Song Contest should have been a perfect opportunity to show off Andorra to the world, however she did not have much success in the competition. The micronation is not at all known for their musical prowess, though I really believe Roure’s music is a perfect starting point to advertise the nation’s culture and language to the world. It is no surprise that with her musical sensibility Roure herself comes from a family of musicians, with her great-grandfather being a trumpeter, her father a band director and most notably her grandfather Joan Roure i Jané was a legendary composer in Andorra, who left a legacy not just within his family but also founded a wide variety of orchestras in the country and in Andorra la Vella there is even a square named after him.
“Roure is incredibly adept at getting across the same feeling of ‘girl power’ and ‘rebellion’ in her music despite my inability to understand the lyrics.”
When writing about albums created by artists from micronations there is a temptation to spend most of the review waffling on about niche fun facts about the country itself to act as filler when describing the album selected from the relatively slim pickings available. Whilst I could spend this review sharing titbits of information about the little-known tax haven, such as the fact that Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world in 2013, I feel that would not be doing justice to what is a thoroughly enjoyable album. Instead, in order for you to understand why I enjoyed this album so much, I shall try and sum up the record using a jocular description that was coined by Joel, who also enjoyed the album: “Marta Roure is basically Catalanis Morissette.“
I really like Alanis Morissette. There are a multitude of reasons that I enjoy her music, however, the main factor that I explored in my review of her album Jagged Little Pill was her lyrical forward-thinking. Whilst I was able to analyse the genius of her lyrics (due to her singing in my native tongue, English), I am, however, unfortunately not able to do the same with ‘Catalanis’. Nevertheless, just because Roure sings in Catalan, it does not mean that she fails to transmit some of the same qualities to just as high a standard as Morrisette does. Roure is incredibly adept at getting across the same feeling of ‘girl power’ and ‘rebellion’ in her music despite my inability to understand the lyrics.
This is a huge compliment to the Andorran, and I believe she is capable of doing so through the unique authenticity that she transmits through her voice. Whilst Joel might jokingly dub her ‘Catalanis’, I might perhaps suggest the nickname the ‘Queen of the Chorus’. This is because the album is jam-packed with catchy tunes that I find myself singing along to during the chorus, despite not being at all au fait with the Catalan language. This is particularly true in the cases of Sentir Girar, Reincident and Si T’en Vas; in fact, I would go so far as to say that No Puc FerHo Sola is a certified earworm due to its epic guitar riffs and highly memorable chorus.
What I do find strange, however, is that although there is variety in the way in which Roure starts many of her songs, there seems to be a common trend between the energy levels she begins with and the success of the song. For example, Insomni and Perduda kick off with an electronic intro whilst S'ha Acabat begins with Libertines-esque epic garage rock guitar riffing, it seems that whenever she starts with high energy she fails to maintain the quality throughout the rest of the track. Yet, by the same token I find her slower more melancholic intros in songs like No Tinc Edat and Tots En Una Nòria quite boring. The point I am trying to make is that Roure is in her absolute element when she starts a tune with a progressive build-up of energy and then suddenly turns the volume up to 11 during the chorus, in which her two fingers up punkish side reveals itself in an almost ‘Wheatus-like’ fashion, whilst still keeping a firmly pop sensibility to her music. Massa Fàcil and No Sé Si Això És Amor are perfect examples of this.
What I find most fascinating about this album, however, is that the bonus track (Jugarem A Estimar) was Andorra’s first ever entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. Whilst we have not broached the topic of Eurovision too regularly on this world music review site thus far, it would be remiss to ignore Roure and Andorra’s lack of success in the competition. They are the only nation to have never made it to the final which seems to be for political reasons above anything else. Listening to Roure’s music it would seem unfair that she did not do better, and reasons that come to mind that despite coming from a nation of multi-linguists, with most of the population being fluent in 4 or 5 languages (French, Spanish, Catalan, English and Portuguese) she chose to respect the heritage of the nation and release an album in the least commonly spoken language that she could have done. The tendency for Eurovision contestants to only gain success when singing in English seems to be an indictment of the dilution of culture in what is ultimately meant to be a celebration of our differences.