Posted: September 18th, 2008
Aside from the occasional Air song, I don’t consider contemporary French music worth the effort. You can spend unreasonable amounts of time wading through stacks of mindless hip-hop or slick and unsoulful pop in order to find the very few hidden gems of the French music scene.Â That said, you can imagine my surprise at uncovering such talents as Benjamin Biolay, Keren Ann, Carla Bruni and Coralie ClÃ©ment all within the space of a year.
The last mademoiselle remains my true favorite of the bunch.Â Fans and detractors alike cite her whispery voice that can give instant mood to whatever song she sings as the key to her sound.Â The sexy then twenty-one-year-old first used it to near perfection in “Salle des Pas Perdus”, a jazzy, bossa nova inflected album of sweet, wistful songs that make for perfect listening as you sip your Friday evening apÃ©ro.
But 2005’s Bye Bye BeautÃ© really opened my eyes to ClÃ©ment’s talents.Â To be fair, she has some serious help: her brother is Benjamin Biolay, a multi-talented musician and collaborator with Keren Ann.Â (Not a simple case of nepotism, ClÃ©ment never intended to join the family businessâ€”Benjamin “discovered” her after word got back to him that sis sounded pretty good when singing his songs for fun.)Â Quite literally, and distinct from her debut, the new album rocks. From the first track, “L’IndÃ©cise” (“The Indecisive Woman”), to the last, ClÃ©ment uses her signature voice to complement her brother’s imaginative arrangements.
The album’s vibe comes partly from ClÃ©ment’s frequent sojourns to New York City, where a friendship with Daniel Lorca of Nada Surf helped expand her horizons.Â The result of all this study abroad and sibling synergy is a study in contrasts.Â Out of this Paris-New York synthesis comes a variety of aggressive, winsome and frank songs that sound like the Velvet Underground cut with a strong dash of vintage Serge Gainsbourg and FranÃ§oise Hardy. Favorite tracks include “Un beau jour pour mourir” (A Good Day to Die), “L’Enfer” (hell) and “Ta rÃ©vÃ©rence.”
“L’Enfer” speaks to an ex, asking (here goes my translation) “what did it do to you to let me fall/ don’t you know that once you hit bottom you can still dig after all?Â You want more/you get less/ voilÃ all that’s left.”Â The refrain is the ultimate kiss-off: “fortunately hell doesn’t exist.” Of course, this all sounds better in French, but you get the idea.Â ClÃ©ment has come a long way from the secret crushes she sang about on her first record.Â Check out the impressive chanteuse she’s grown into.
- Denis Benarrosch – Drums
- Benjamin Biolay – Guitar, Piano, Arranger, Tambourine, Producer, Vocals, Bass
- GaÃ«lle MacÃ© Biolay – Tin Whistle
- FranÃ§ois Boucheron – Piano
- Coralie ClÃ©ment – Vocals
- Nicolas Giraud – Trumpet
- Daniel Lorca – Guitar (Acoustic), Bass
- Laurent Manganas – Piano, Fender Rhodes
- Eric Sauviat – Guitar
- Laurent Vernerey – Bass
- IndÃ©cise (Clement, Lorca) 2:42
- Gloria (Biolay) 2:28
- L’ Enfer (Biolay) 3:24
- Avec Ou Sans Moi (Biolay, Stremler) 2:09
- Un Beau Jour un Pour Mourir (Biolay) 3:57
- Beau Fixe (Dorval) 2:41
- Kids (Jeu du Foulard) (Biolay) 3:05
- L’ Impasse (Biolay, Clement, Lorca) 3:24
- Mais Pourtant (Biolay) 2:51
- Ta RÃ©vÃ©rence (Biolay) 2:49
- Bye Bye BeautÃ© (Biolay) 3:54
- Ã‰pilogue (Biolay) 3:48
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