So, the new ZAZ album is out, featuring classic songs about the City of Light. Sous le ciel de paris, Le Parisienne and this superhit:
It’s a cool album, lots of manouche- and swing-influences, Quincy Jones (yes!) did a wonderful job producing, and Zaz shines.
All songs are from waaaay back, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there are of course very good French songs written about Paris from the more recent past. Like these:
Do you know other, better, more recent French songs (not older than, say, 20 years) about Paris? I made a Spotify-list, you can add to that. Or in the comments below!
Thanks to Kees-Jan for introducing me to this great Radio France talkshow about (the love for) vinyl, with various artists. Shows are subtitled in English!
See all episodes HERE
Montréal-based sirene Stéphanie Lapointe released a new album, that has the spirit of early Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin written all over it. Which is a good thing. This is the first single:
It’s probably safe to say that your team were filled with just a little trepidation when it came to reviewing Fanny Bloom’s sophomore album “Pan,” the follow-up to 2012’s universally acclaimed “Apprentie guerrière.” Firstly, there was the small matter of the appearance with Montréal rappers Loud Lary Ajust, not to mention the album’s teaser “Piscine.”
Fanny Bloom, we are not worthy…
After just one spin it’s fairly obvious that with “Pan” Fanny Bloom has created is an irresistible pop album which can be divided into two distinct sides. Firstly there’s the dance-floor fillers; “Blanc,” with it’s deceptively simple piano solo, a few soothing bars of pan flute (which given the album’s title probably isn’t coincidence), before erupting into a glorious chorus of multi-tracked vocals, percussion and keys… The Europop infused “Danse,” resplendent with tell-tale synths and beats which leads neatly to the pop sensation of the Québec summer that was “Piscine.”
However, it’s after “Évidemment” – another upbeat number, resplendent with synths, bright brass, percussion and a plinking piano keyboard that the album has a complete change of mood.
“Sammy, Sammy” sees a welcome reappearance of the pan flute before giving way to piano and guitar as Fanny launches into a heartfelt and powerful ballad, complete with yet another seemingly effortless and immediately catchy chorus and filled with bittersweet refrains. From the few interviews I’ve read, this is an incredibly personal song (apparently named after an ex) and you can sense the emotion in the voice. Just as “Blanc” sets the pace for the first part of the album so this song sets the tone for the second part.
“Mélodie” is for the most part a simple two piece composition of voice and piano; the song’s gentle melody is incredibly relaxing (helped, it has to be said, by the hypnotic – at times child-like – quality of Fanny’s ravishing vocals). “Dead birds” and “Il faudra” (the former an unreleased La Patère Rose demo) both fit seamlessly with the structure of this album’s more tranquil and trance-like side. And while “Pan” threatens to disturb the tranquility with it’s heavily distorted guitar and pounding drums, the soothing pan flute again ensures the tranquillity isn’t disturbed. The album’s closer, “Mémo” is yet another beautifully moving two-piece – a simple piano accompaniment to the most bewitching of vocals, the sound of running water and birdsong add to the air of absolute calm… Indeed it’s this album’s slower numbers that force you to reflect upon the quality of Fanny Bloom’s song-writing and composing skills (the singing part of this holy trinity goes without saying).
However, this album’s crowning moment has to be “Drama queens” – named after the posthumously published novel by Vickie Gendreau (who tragically died of a brain tumour aged just 24), it’s a dark and deeply moving masterpiece and one which I can’t even begin to find the words that would do justice to the sheer majesty of this song.
With “Pan” Fanny has crafted an unashamed pop album that amply demonstrates that she is more than capable of turning her hand to dance-floor fillers as she can heart moving and incredible personal ballads. In the process she’s provided us with as good a contemporary pop album as will be released in English or French this or any year.
This is nailed-on for a Year-list appearance
Today, I interviewed Coralie Clément. The guardian angel of this blog, the one who wrote a blog post for us all a few years back (this one), the singer who stands for everything this blog is about: the love for French songs, sung by husky beautiful girls.
You can understand my excitement.
The interview will run in a few months in a Dutch magazine, but I can give you the highlights. Yes, La belle affaire is mostly about a girl and a boy breaking up. But it’s not about her own divorce from Marc Chouarain, father of daughter Iris and collaborator on ‘La belle affaire’. Coralie says that the theme and the stories of the song are more universal.
She told me she loves Françoise Hardy, that she recorderd her cover of ‘Mon amie la rose’ for a german ad and decided to keep the song for her album. Jane Birkin, Vanessa Paradis, Gainsbourg and Depeche Mode are among her favorites as well. ‘I’m in love with (Depeche Mode-singer) Dave Gahan’, she said, in that ultra-lovely French accent of her (see this interview to hear how CC speaks in English).
Just like on her second album, big sister Gaëlle plays the flute on this album, you can hear her on the closing track Tes nuits pâles. We didn’t talk that much about Benjamin.
She said she loves the movies, loves Sofia Coppola and thinks Lost in Translation is a masterpiece. The loneliness of the ScarJo character in that movie is very appealing to Coralie. ‘I can very much relate to that, in the sense that I love travelling, love being on tour, love to immerse myself in other countries and cultures. But on the other hand, it’s not your home, it’s not your culture, you feel overwhelmed and left out.’
We talked a little about Iris, her daughter. She told me she made the children’s book Iris à 3 ans (with Gesa Hansen) because when she saw her little girl listen to the Vengeance-album by Benjamin, that she reacted very shocked to the swearing in various songs. ‘So I decided to make a book that I could read to her that was more suitable for her young ears’, she laughed. Oh my.
She might come to the low countries next year, March or April, so let’s light a candle for that to happen, ’cause now that I’ve spoken to her, I’d give my left index finger to see her play live.
Blast from the past:
Very, very impressed by the debut album of this man, Pierre Kwenders. His music and his voice have nothing to do with the soft sighing girls that are usually posted here. But hey, you do not eat boeuf bourguignon every night, do you? Pierre was born in Congo, now lives in Quebec and is influenced by 40s Congolse rumba, 80s African pop and current electronic music Read an interview with PK here.
Missed this in April, when Olivier Juprelle released his album Le bruit et la fureur. The Belgian guitarplayer, former member of Mud Flow, duets with several fragile filles, including ‘our’ Coralie. Cythère is a very cool track, Gainsbourgian with big guitar solo’s. Also on that album are duets with Auryn and Li-Lo, singers I’d never heard of before. Auryn is really a nice discovery. Juprelle’s album is on Bandcamp, and worth a listen too. By the way, Mud Flow is also the band of Vincent Liben, who has a knack of duetting with FS favorites too.