Rachida Brakni

Guestpost! Theo M. writes:
Prophet+Premiere+2009+Cannes+Film+Festival+-mCiP1gzjoclRecently Filles Sourires featured the “La chanson d’Hélène” version by Sophie Hunger. She recorded that cover with famous French footballeur Eric Cantona. Well whaddayaknow, Eric’s wife is an actress and singer in her own right. Rachida Brakni sounds almost as saucy on her debut (which was released in 2011) as her husband does in his duet with Hunger. Brakni, who’s of Algerian descent, delivers her songs with a dark mystique. On the album’s opening track ‘Je Danse et je Ris’ (try it on Spotify), and in ‘Terre Fatale’ she proves she masters the Gainsbourgian ‘Sprechgesang’ as well as her husband. Hopefully we will hear more of Mrs. Cantona very soon!

Céline Tolosa

(This guestpost was originally published on the wonderful Lie in the Sound-blog, and written by Christoph/SomeVapourTrails)

Every country has it’s own musical charm, in France it’s the ‘airy Chic’ that’s sprinkled onto songs by chanteuses from every generation. The graceful members of this guild can either sing saucy or sentimental, but in any case the singing floats at least a foot above all earthly things. As is proven by Parisienne Céline Tolosa, whose début-EP was released recently. The four delicate songs on the EP channel the charm from 60s French pop. Even the title track Covergirl precipitates as graceful as profound. Tolosa embodies a cover girl, either a Lolita or Femme Fatale from any glamour magazine. But behind the glittering façade of the Fashion Business lurks the realization that they will one day be replaced, when a slimmer model comes along.
The nice, for predestined humming melody follows with Rue Mansart, a rather moody piano chanson. It includes that special sophisticated French perspective, which is located somewhere between daydream, still lifes and tears in a buttonhole. Tu est fantastique is an airy number full of retro charm. Every French musical stereotype is confirmed here in distinctive ways.
Fais-moi souffrir is more moody. Céline Tolosa is singing with tender melancholy. Can’t wait to hear mme Tolosa on a full length album. Because, honestly, don’t we all need some disarming French lightness from time to time? I know I can.

Paul van Eersel & Stella Zekri

You know Ry Cooder. You might know Ali Farka Touré. You should listen to their marvelous album Talkin’ Timbuktu. Belgian Paul van Eersel owns this moniker, the Belgian guitar player Paul van Eersel sounds like a love child of Cooder and Farka Touré. Folk Afro-Belge is what he makes, indeed he incorporates folk and african influences. In 2012, he released an EP, featuring a VERY cool duet with one Stella Zekri. A song to see the sun set in the Serengeti. I bumped into Paul via Ivan Tirtiaux (see below).
In a few weeks, Paul releases a full album. Check his Facebook for more details. See a teaser clip HERE

Paul just released this video for ‘Du temps’

Blondy Brownie

Blondy Brownie: A blonde and a brown-haired girl from Belgium, making post-rock tinged music. In French. With John McEntire (Tortoise). And Antoine Wielemans (Girls in Hawaii). And more guests, on an upcoming album. If this sounds promising, wait ’til you hear the music by Aurélie Muller (V.O., Soy Un Caballo, The Tellers, Melon Galia…) and Catherine De Biasio (Mièle, Kris Dane, Ici Baba, Le Yéti…).

More? HERE


Adrian writes:

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the marvellous Arnaud Fleurent-Didier, “Le grand dandy français”, whose last album, La Reproduction, we all took to our hearts. Is it really five years ago? Surely not. Now, it would appear, he’s back, with an amusing teaser for a new record in the style of a 1960s film trailer for Un homme, deux femmes. Singer Dorothée de Koon is still on board, thankfully, and it sounds simply wonderful. So sit back, enjoy the flight, and the stewardesses will be along with cocktails when the ‘fasten seatbelt’ signs are off…

French afro-tinged pop playlist (Spotify)

Need your help! Want to compile a Spotify playlist with afro-tinged French pop. I was ticked off when I heard Mathieu Boogaerts’ delightful ‘Le ciment’, then I thought of the afro-influence in Vanessa’s ‘Tu vois c’que je vois’, and of Irene Jacob’s album, and before I knew it, there was THIS playlist on Spotify. But there must be more French afro-tinged pop songs – listen to the tracks already here, and you get the picture. Add to the playlist!
Unfortunately, this really cool track isn’t on Spotify, but it sure is nice to hear it again.

Ivan Tirtiaux

Yep, another guy on a blog dedicated to singing filles. And no, not a duet this time (tho there’s a girl in the background choir) But a really, really cool song by a Belgian guy who plays, apparently, ‘folk nouveau’, which in this case means he adds Brazilian folk(sy) music to his chansons. The result is, to me, a feelgood hit for the summer.

Keren Ann Live in Los Angeles

20150503 Keren Ann Artwork1A balmy April evening in LA seemed a million miles away from that cold winter’s evening in Switzerland where I had my first introduction to the delightful Keren Ann Zeidel, but as her appearances here are as about as frequent as ground-frosts (this being only the third time to my knowledge since I moved to La-La-Land that she has played here) – in a venue holding only a couple of hundred like-minded souls – I was rewarded with the most intimate of shows from arguably one of the greatest singer-songwriters of her generation. Backed only by Thomas Bartlett on the keyboard, she regaled us – not as a paying audience, but more as old friends – over the course of the best part of a couple of hours with somethings old, something new (a track from her latest, as yet unreleased, album) and even a chanson ‘en français’.

The set – opening with “End of May” – actually drew heavily from 2007’s eponymous album and 2011’s “101”. There were only a couple of tracks from “Not Going Anywhere” and “Nolita”, including the evening only French language offering, “Que n’ai-je” – it’s my one small (indeed not sure why I’m even mentioning it) criticism in that her first two albums (“La Biographie de Luka Philipsen” and “La Disparition” tend to be criminally under-represented. That being said, Los Angeles isn’t – despite fact-fans hosting the second largest French Expat community in the US – noted for being a particularly Francophone city…

However, there’s more than enough to compensate (when you’ve a back catalogue as rich as Keren Ann’s, what to leave out must be a bit of a challenge). There’s a haunting and poignant version of “You were on fire” ( a beautiful homage to her late father) before, harmonica to hand, we’re treated to “Chelsea burns.” There’s also the best version – on record or live – of “Lay your head down”, arguably one of the greatest contemporary love songs ever-written and the finest 4’46” ever laid down in the studio… Tonight the song just felt personal… hard to explain really, but the message seemed to be addressed to all present.

Keren Ann is also a great story-teller, spending time to tell us of her thoughts and background to some of her songs; “All the beautiful girls” we discover is based upon an old lover – an artist – (“it’s not him – honest”) to whom the denouement is quite humorous, “I thought he was a genius. My friends thought he was an arsehole…”

Joking that old songs given new treatments are really new songs, we are treated to inventive reinterpretations of some standards; “The harder ships of the world” is layered with heavily echoed and reverbed keys. Keren unleashes her inner rock-chick on “It ‘ain’t no crime”, complete with psychedelic keys and a great tumbling jam to end; “Sugar mama” gets the “Peter Gunn” treatment and (with a nod to our location) a touch of the surf-rock guitar, while “My name is trouble” adds staccato guitar and “Blood on my hands” is textured with a deliberate change of pace during the middle-eight, featuring gunshots and ‘plink-plonk’ western saloon piano effects on the keys.

We’re finally treated to a brand new number from destined for her new album (as featured in this very Blog last December). The song is a haunting and biographical tale of a mother seeing in face of her child an old lover, is heart-warmingly evocative. If you haven’t already pledged to help fund her new album, do so now. There is no excuse!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as the set ends with – probably to the public at large – her best known song, “Strange weather” and while we must thank both Anna Calvi and David Byrne for bring this song to everyone’s attention, here – with heavy reverb and echo, swirling keys and the guitar crying as if falling rain in a storm – Keren reclaimed ownership…

Keren encores with “Not going anywhere” – and visibly moved – an a cappella cover of the Chet Baker standard “It’s always you.” It was without a doubt the most moving performance I’ve seen…

Set list
1. “End of May”
2. “You were on fire”
3. “Chelsea burns”
4. “The harder ships of the world”
5. “Lay your head down”
6. “It ‘ain’t no crime”
7. “Sugar mama”
8. “Que n’ai je”
9. “All the beautiful girls”
10. “In your back”
11. “It’s all a lie”
12. “My name is trouble”
13. “Blood on my hands”
14. New song
15. “Strange weather”
16. “Not going anywhere”
17. “It’s always you” (Chet Baker cover

Sally Folk

462394874_640Sally Folk, remember her from this post? She has a new album out. Mark Sullivan writes:

Sally Folk’s trade-mark dark seductress looks matched her original francophone single ‘Heureux infidèles’ which remains as enjoyable as ever.
Now she has a new album ‘Deuxième acte’ just one year after her first, eponymous venture in French. Film of her at the ‘Lancement’at Club Soda in Montreal in March is here.

The lead song is ‘Les heures de visite’

and Sally live at Montreal Radio Station Rythme 105.7 two weeks ago

For Anglophones, one advantage Sally offers is wonderful diction – you can almost learn French off these songs. ‘Révolver’ on her previous album is rather fast, but the lyrics are on the screen in this Youtube film.

And for comparison, listen to Sally in English, from 2011, with ‘Oh Cheri’, and ‘The Line’ .

Hunger with Cantona

Sophie Hunger - SupermoonShe’s back on track again, Sophie Hunger, the attractive multi talented singer-songwriter and film composer from Zurich, Switzerland released a new album yesterday called Supermoon. Most of the tracks on the Deluxe Edition are sung in English. Six tracks are sung in German/Swiss though and two – and now we’re getting somewhere – are sung in French.
Hunger delivers an outstanding album, more rockier, more up-tempo than we were used to and more electronics are involved, but still unmistakably Sophie Hunger. Her soft voice blends superb in more rockier songs like ‘We are the Living’ (with a somewhat Histoire de Melody-esque intro) and is intimate and intoxicating in more quiet songs like ‘Die Ganze Welt’. Supermoon is produced by John Vanderslice, who also worked with Death Cab For Cutie and St. Vincent and especially the last is someone Hunger must have been listening to lately.

Now back to one of the two French tracks on the album: ‘La chanson d’Hélène’. Originally written by Philippe Sarde and Jean-Loup Dabadie for the 1970 movie Les choses de la vie (as you might have read here). Hunger recorded it en duet with… Eric Cantona. Say what?! Yes, Cantona, the legendary former French international football player, the man with the temper and nowadays actor is singing along with Hunger like he never did something else before. In the best Serge Gainsbourg tradition he murmurs the song to one of the best on this album, which is one heck of a compliment with so many other great tracks on the album.

So you might have read more on La chanson d’Hélène earlier here on Filles Sourires, but those tracks were down meanwhile. Because of the great Hunger/Cantona addition we re-up them on FS.

La Chanson d’Hélène:
Sophie Hunger & Eric Cantona
Berry & Daniel Darc
Dream Makers
Françoiz Breut
Get Well Soon
Jasmin Tabatabai
Marina Celeste
Romy Schneider & Michel Piccoli
Youn Sun Nah & Roland Brival