The imaginary suitcase is the one we carry along throughout our lives, the one that contains our dead or barely breathing illusions, our secrets and the memories of our fantasized lives.
The Imaginary Suitcase is also the solo avatar of Belgian lad Laurent Leemans, singer and guitarist in the acoustic folk-rock combo Ceilí Moss from 1996 to 2015 and before that in La Vierge du Chancelier Rolin in the 90s.
Cracker sang "what the world needs now is another folksinger like I need a hole in my head" and they were not wrong, but in 2012, after 14 years spent in a band of 5 to 8 musicians playing full throttle Poguesey folk-rock, the desire to bring to life songs that didn’t fit in the Ceilí Moss sound got stronger than the fear of becoming the 1001st whining brat who strums two and a half chords and moans his small time existentialism, so that everyone understands what Schopenhauer meant when he wrote about boredom as a metaphysical experience...
This project began as a mere recreation, and Laurent expected not much of it except the selfish satisfaction of seeing some personal songs come to life, but The Imaginary Suitcase grew way beyond it's founder's wildest expectations with gigs (awkward at first to find yourself alone on stage when you've always had half a dozen excellent musicians behind your back...), praise and enthusiastic comments from the blogosphere and occasional cooperations with Jean-François Durdu (of Ceilí Moss, Camping Sauvach and Bow), Marc Gunn (of the Brodbingnagian Bards), Jessica Kilroy, Seesayle, Formiga & Cigale, Tiny (from Doosra), Marieke Lightband and Florence Estragues.
Soulful and ultra melodic songs built round a deep and versatile voice (think of the son Suzanne Vega and Nick Cave would have had) at times caressing, at times ominous, deceptively simple guitar chords, and often sarcastic lyrics about life, death, and the confusing bits inbetween. Live, Laurent uses different acoustic guitars, an autoharp and some percussion to bring a surprisingly full, varied and generous performance for a guy alone.
Can you say The Imaginary Suitcase is a sort of Belgian counterpart to The World Of Skin or maybe Joseph Arthur’s evil twin? Why not? And the listener will probably also perceive the influence of The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, Nick Cave, Rowland S. Howard, 16 Horsepower/Wovenhand, Paul Roland, Brendan Perry, Death In June, Hugo Race, The The, Lloyd Cole or Leonard Cohen.
In about four years, The Imaginary Suitcase has released seven self-produced records: Here’s to those we could not save, Putting things on top of other things, Full moon fever, Driftwood and Fake Blood From Real Wounds, plus the postscriptums Live in the Ardent City and The shape of things forsaken.
After this hectically productive period, The Imaginary Suitcase entered a hibernating phase, due to many events it would be tedious to enumerate here. Which could not impeach the slow but not at all painful genesis of Thy Grace & Wisdom in october 2017
To be continued ...