Coeur de Pirate, ‘Roses’ review

FS-contributing editor Mark Sullivan has written an extensive review of CDP’s Roses, for your pleasure:

‘Roses’ has been awaited since Béatrice Martin told CBC’s ‘Q’ programme in April 2014 that she was ‘writing songs in English now’. Its headline composition, the unique ‘Oublie-moi’ / ‘Carry on’, twin songs in French and English, was revealed with some panache on ‘La Voix’ on 5 April. Several songs were performed at the 2015 summer festivals. Despite this, the actual release on 28 August was quite an event, certainly for those who followed CdP’s twitter, where she marked progress to release almost daily.

The full album – Coeur de Pirate followers need the ‘De Luxe’ version with 15 tracks – has some unusual and attractive new songs, a couple of disappointments, and one surprise. And they are all self-penned; she has explained here that she had the English-language lyrics ‘proof-read’ to ensure that they made sense.

Béatrice starts off with ‘Oceans Brawl’, which begins with the sound of waves. She says this song is inspired by where oceans meet – Cape Horn – though the lyrics seem more a reference to her few wild teenage years -‘Told me lies, told me tales / Lived for bad and hit the rails / Hate you boy with what I know / Picked my love up with my bones / And then I’ll crawl’. This has been her introductory song at recent festivals.

Then comes the ‘instant hit’ ‘Oublie-moi’ which as a single went to the top of the Canadian charts in April. ‘Oublie-moi’ is track 2, the English ‘Carry on’ is 11th on the standard CD, 13th track on the De Luxe album. ‘Oublie-moi’ in particular is an absolute pop classic, likely to be played for years. CdP’s new solo piano version of ‘Oublie-moi’, not on the album, is here.

Third track is ‘Crier tout bas’ which is quite superb – ‘scream in a whisper’ – ‘Et si le jour ne vient pas / Dans la nuit des perdus / Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas’. See the video filmed by Kevin Calero in California:

This song puts Béatrice into the class of singers who can perform ‘anthem’ pop well – something that many try but can often fail at. Its first performance, at Echo Beach, Toronto, on 23 May, here, set the tone for a classic.
‘I don’t want to break your heart’ also first played at Toronto, is conventional in sound, despite interesting lyrics. Perhaps for the US market, CdP has kept her tradition of one duet with a male singer per album; in this case the rapper Allen Kingdom has a part which sounds not unlike Jay-Z’s lines in the original version of Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’.

‘Drapeau blanc’, first revealed at Francofolies in July, is about Béatrice’s relationship with her mother, she says. When she rebelled and gave up piano at 13, its distressed her mother, a concert pianist and leading teacher in Montreal. ‘Et j’abdique, j’abandonne, j’en ai brûlé ton drapeau blanc’ …. ‘Silence sur silence qu’on gardait lors des confrontations’. The tune is the least striking of the four songs in French. One looks forward to the writer discussing its lyrics more.

‘Undone’ is she says dedicated to her husband, Alex (the Parisian professional tatooer). Here the lyrics are good but the music less so – again a rather conventional tune.

Then comes perhaps the finest track, ‘Tu oublieras mon nom’ which suggests parting, a frequent CdP subject in the past. ‘Et quand tu parles de moi, c’est la dernière fois / j’éteins, je danserai là-bas / Et tombe encore, tu promets cette fois / Tu oublieras mon nom’.

Béatrice now offers us two excellent songs in English, which reflect her main theme of togetherness and returning, something she now feels is important having her daughter Romy to care for. (‘When I wrote ‘Blonde’ four years ago I was angry’ she now says.) ‘Castaway’, not yet heard live anywhere, offers encouragement to come back: ‘But if it’s fear of love that keeps you out of open arms / The I will leave the light on any trail to come / And you will find your way in any given storm’ (CdP’s proof-reader might have queried ‘any given storm’ as something a Canadian lawyer might write!)

‘The way back home’ reverses the theme, promising always to return: ‘And I’ll find my way back home / Just to read upon the light that’s in your eyes / And if you ever feel alone / Just remember that I’ll be coming back.’

‘Our love’, which follows, is perhaps the one disappointing track – too much percussion and a conventional tune. It may be fine in the USA. There are then two ‘bonus’ tracks, ’The Climb’ (‘I don’t know if I’ll walk / If you’re not by my side’) and ‘Can’t get your love’, which is a very British sort of pop tune, the sort written for a short-career ‘pop star’ to make ‘Record of the Week’ on BBC Radio – but in Béatrice Martin’s hands is enjoyable enough to have been worth putting on the main album.

‘Carry on’ then appears to bookend the album, but on the De Luxe CD there is a second version of ‘Oceans Brawl’ and finally a real surprise: a dance remix of ‘Oublie-moi’ by Felix Cartal, which should put CdP into the clubs. One may guess that this is to avoid someone else doing a remix which Béatrice can’t control, and avoid a repeat of the rather poor 2012 remix of her classic, ‘Place de la République’, on Youtube.

Eight of the tracks were produced in Stockholm by Björn Yttling, the Swedish hit-maker. Three were made in London at Ash Workman’s Church Studios (including ‘Can’t get your love’); and two, notably the lead version of ‘Oceans Brawl’ were produced by Rob Ellis in Bristol, West of England; he added sea sounds and a smooth tonal backing, which the Ash Workman version lacks.

Could the album have been better? The French-language tracks are generally the best, and a 50/50 split would have been more welcome in France and Quebec. If the two ‘bonus’ tracks had been put in the main list, and ‘Our love’ (at least) ditched, Coeur de Pirate’s version of Renaud’s ‘Mistral gagnant’ would have been a popular ‘bonus track’. (See her RTL live studio version here.) At present it is only on the ‘La Bande de Renaud’ album, which CdP fans are unlikely to buy. And I would have imported the best of her covers from her 2014 album ‘Trauma’ – The National’s ‘Slow Show’ perhaps.

Béatrice now has a large selection of songs.. As her set at Francofolies showed, she is better than ever on stage. It will be worth seeing which she decides to highlight on her autumn tour – and how her new English-language numbers fare in America.

Coeur de Pirate at Massey Hall

Mark Sullivan writes:

Massey Hall, Canada’s most prestigious music venue (in Toronto), which dates from 1894, hosted Coeur de Pirate on 31 May 2014. A 28-minute film of highlights of her concert has now been released on-line.

Any one who doubts that Béatrice Martin is the supreme writer and performer of popular music in her generation should look at this. Shot in black-and-white from several angles, and with perfect acoustic recording, this film takes us far beyond the thousands of amateur recordings of CdP that crowd Youtube. As amateur filming was not permitted, this is a unique record of a completely professional performance, with elegant bilingual introductions. It is so good that one can only hope that the full concert, which must have included as many songs again, will be issued on DVD.

There is a voice-over by Béatrice at the start, and the audience is seen entering over the sound of the first track. The songs shown are

Le Long de large
Golden Baby
Place de la République
Comme les Enfants

Berceuse is played over the closing credits.

It is notable that (as the credits show) Coeur de Pirate has kept all four of her band for the whole six years of her career so far – Renaud Bastien, rhythm guitar (her lead musician), Emmanuel Éthier, lead guitar, Alexandre Gauthier, bass, and Julien Blais, drums. No wonder the quality is so high.

Coeur de Pirate – Béatrice Martin 25

Béatrice Martin is 25 years old today. Congrats! Mark Sullivan sings her praise (again):
Béatrice Martin, whose ‘project’ Coeur de Pirate has become so successful that it is carrying her towards a new bilingual pop career, was born on 22 September 1989. She early on told interviewers how important her years from 18 to 25 were going to be, and that they would set her direction for the rest of her life. Now she has reached the horizon she set for herself. It is worth reviewing her exceptional career, and see where she may go next.

Filles Sourires has a particular interest in the blonde with tattooes from Montreal, for we spotted her right at the start, in Autumn 2008, before any other English-language blog, and before she was known in France. Béatrice was number 1 on the FS 2008 Year List :
‘And suddenly there she was, as could be expected from une fille fragile, whispers sweet words in your ear, and the songs will stay there, they won’t go away; they are forever, like a tattoo.’

Béatrice, who had started at the piano at the age of 3, launched her first album in Montreal as she reached 19, in September 2008, here with ‘Ensemble’

Right from the start this was something unusual – a girl at a piano with a backing band, with live performances as fine as her recordings. The video of ‘Comme des enfants’ soon followed and by January 2009 she was in France recording her music afresh. See her in the studio playing ‘C’est salement romantique’, one of her best early compositions.

Her international fame began though with the use of her track ‘Ensemble’ by a father in Quebec to go with as time-lapse film of his son playing on the floor over several hours – the famous ‘Vachon baby’ film which received publicity in the US and France. After this she was invited several times onto the CBC televised chat-show ‘Q’ at which she sang in French and talked in English. Here on ‘Q’ in September 2009 is the very first film of CdP performing her classic ‘Place de la République’, which she wrote after completing her original album, but did not record for another 2 years.

In 2010 Béatrice found herself conquering France, with sell-out concerts and at Les Victoires de la Musique. Scrutiny from amateur film-recorders became intense. Film of her on Youtube piled up. The video of ‘Pour un infidèle’ sung with French pop heart-throb Julien Doré was fun. Her first album by then was on the way to selling 500,000 and she had really arrived.

In 2010 the Quebec time-travel TV series ‘Les Rescapés’ (a reverse version of the British TV series ‘Life on Mars’) chose modern singers to perform hits from the 1960-64 period from which the characters had come, to be played over the end credits. Coeur de Pirate was chosen to sing best-known of all Francophone pop songs of that time, Françoise Hardy’s ‘Tous les garçons et les filles’.

Endlessly argued over for its comparison with the original, the film of this live performance has notched up 1.8 million hits on Youtube in 4 years.

Meanwhile CdP showed that she could better the originals with covers of well-known songs in English, as in 2010 with Phoenix’s ‘Lasso’.
This fine version is on no album yet. Also, check her duet with Jay Malinowski, on the EP they made together as Armistice.

The second album, the long-awaited ‘Blonde’, appeared in October 2011, and was immediately acclaimed as perfect. See the Filles Sourires full review here.
Béatrice then set out on a major tour with two albums to perform (and thus no longer a shortage of songs). Here she is at L’Ancienne Belgique on 4 December 2011.

And her first appearance in the United States followed, with four concerts – including a terrific one in New York in which she showed her bilingual skills in introducing every song… and the memorable line for monolingual Americans, ‘For those who don’t know me, I’m Coeur de Pirate, or Corda Pyrit…’ to huge laughter.

After her US concerts, Béatrice announced that she was pregnant and would not be able to complete her tour. But she continued well into the summer, perhaps the one top singer in the world who would do this. See her well-wrapped-up on a cold evening in April 2012 at the open-air Théâtre de Verdure in Nice performing ‘Les amours dévouées’ from ‘Blonde’.

A feature of CdP concerts is the scale of singing along with her songs. She has described in the past how her fans ‘know every word of all the songs’. Proof of this comes from this film of her final song, piano-only, ‘Adieu’, at Avignon in March 2012.

Béatrice’s baby, Romy, was born in September 2012, she having married Alex Peyrat in the summer. By the end of 2012 she was easing herself back into performances, including at a Montreal Christmas charity event a rather good version of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’; and then back in France showing her dominance in duets such as with Roch Voisine here.

CdP’s more recent career, including her sell-out solo 12-concert tour in Europe in April 2013, and her 2014 album of English-language covers, ‘Trauma’, has been well-reported on Filles Sourires, here, her music for the ‘Child of Light’ video game here, and her interpretation of Renaud’s ‘Mistral gagnant’, where there is also discussion of her exceptional ‘Taratata’ appearance on 28 February 2014.

What can we look forward to? Film of her fascinating interview with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC’s ‘Q’ in March 2014 can now be watched.
Her skill and intelligence matched with frankness and humour is even more impressive than before.
Béatrice tells us how she works and that we can look forward next to a new album of her own songs – some in English. As she said to a music website Noisey on the release of ‘Child of Light’ in May 2014, “I always have music in my head from being in the conservatory early on and playing a lot of classical music. I have a lot of melodies that are just there and I record them all the time on my iPhone.”

But to really understand the Coeur de Pirate phenomenon, it seems right to mark her six years of success by showing her before her fans in several huge French concerts in 2010. She used to end her concerts performing ‘Francis’ solo at the piano, after the band had left the stage. Renaud Bastien, the senior musician in her band, filmed ‘Francis’ from the back of the stage several times. He put clips together in one 5-minute film. It’s worth watching.


October 11th marks the 50th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s death. A few days ago, a bunch of great French singers paid tribute to La Mome in New York. Anyone’s who seen the movie La Vie en Rose or read about Edith, knows about her ties to the big apple. See an introduction to that show here. Below, a few performances by Elodie Frégé, Olivia Ruiz and Coeur de Pirate on that tribute night:

10 Sexiest Women in French Music Today (1)

And so our countdown of sexy French-singing filles ends. This is the ultimate fille. You guessed it.

1. Béatrice Martin/Coeur de Pirate

Everyone’s’ (well nearly everyone…) favourite tattooed quebecoise Québécoise with the pixie smile and bedroom eyes. There’s an overwhelming desire to wrap her up in cotton wool (or is that just me?). Then again how do you follow up your stellar debut album while breaking up with your beau? Answer – if you’re Ms Martin is to knock them dead with your sophomore offering, “Blonde”. Tougher than she looks, this one. And probably more pregnant too.

Coeur de Pirate – St Laurent

Coeur de Pirate @ FrancoFolies

Probably her last performance of this year, a very pregnant Béatrice plays @ FrancoFolies in Montréal:

(thanks Mark!)

Year lists (8)

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’m a bit late with the year list and it looks that most of my FS-colleagues were way better and faster. But I’ll give it a shot.
There were as always disappointments; albums you waited for but that disappointed when they came out. But also pleasant surprises. Actually, there were a lot of them. It was harder to make a list of only ten albums, than a list of, say, 25 good ones. So no Austine, Brigitte, Brigitte Boisjoli,  Catherine Major, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Claire Denamur, Elsa Kopf, Ingrid St-Pierre, L. Liz Cherhal, Lou Lesage, Nous Non Plus, Yelle…
Without further ado: here is my personal top 10

(11). Karin Clercq  – Karin Clercq
A bit odd to start with a Top Ten with eleven, but I had too. when I got this EP of Karin Clercq I was very enthousiastic. Great voice great songs. I even prepared a post, but then I realised I already knew the songs. It turned out that it was an EP for the French Market with songs form her album of 2009. But still one of the highlights of 2011.

10. Lise – Lise
Played this album a lot this year. Fresh songs, pleasant voce. Unfortunately some songs in English, but the French ones are a lot better!

9. Isabelle Boulay – Les Grands Espaces
There are always artist you don’t like. Isabelle Boulay was one of them. I didn’t even bother to listen carefully, it is just “nah, not for me”.  But this year I did and I was pleasantly surprised by her album. French Americana album of the year.

8. Aurélie Cabrel – Oserais-je
One of the pleasant surprises this year. Surprisingly the highest “Daughter of” in My list. Sorry Charlotte…

7. Ödland – Sankta Lucia
European project from Lorenzo Papace, with two wonderful sisters Bingöllü.

6. Chloé Lacasse – Chloé Lacasse
First artist from Quebec on this list and certainly not the last one!

5. Stéphanie Crayencour – La garçonnière
If this list was ranking of hard to find albums, this one wold be very close to number 1. Took a lot of effort to find it, but it was worth it. Highest Belgian artist on this list. (Merci I. for your hard work again!).

4. Claire Keim – Ou il Pleuvra
Highest Claire in My list. It was close but Claire Denamur just dropped out the top 10. Poppy album but this Claire sings just like what we expect of a Fille Sourire…

3. Salomé Leclerc – Sous Les Arbres
Again an album form an artist from Quebec. What a talents are there. And they keep coming!

2. Mélanie Laurent – En t’attendant
Highest singing actress in the list (sorry again, Charlotte). Very balanced album, and just a very pleasant album to listen to. But Maks described it way better here.

1. Coeur de Pirate – Blonde
What more can I say.. as stated, there were a lot of good albums, but only one really superb album this year. And when you are so lucky to see her perform live, you can only agree: Beatrice Martin is a little diamond, that needs more recognition.


Coeur de Pirate live

Three free livetracks by Coeur de Pirate! Part of the’ 12 days of Christmas app’ from iTunes – they’re giving away free songs by various artists, only downloadable for 24 hours. Or at least, that’s the idea. Not sure how & why, but the three CdP-songs (+ 2 videos) were up December 8 and still downloadable. If you live in Canada, that is. But you know we have ways of getting to our CdP-stuff. So here are the three songs, recorded last October in Paris. Enjoy.

Coeur de Pirate – Cap Diamant (live)
Coeur de Pirate – St Laurent (live)
Coeur de Pirate – La petite mort (live)

Coeur de Pirate, AB Bruxelles, 12/4/11

We were there. Oh, how we were there.

We (me, FransS, Maks), we were exchanging profanities. Glances. Smiles. We were there when Béatrice Martin of Montréal Canada, smiled her million dollar smile. When she and her band (four guys who looked like French nephews of the Followill-family) r-o-c-k-e-d the Bruxelles AB venue. The first two songs, Verseau and Adieu, kicked serious ass. Bé’s voice was strong, confident, on top of things. We Dutchies, we had to adjust. We knew she could sing, but we only saw her play the grand piano, on several live-in-the-studio-clips. Here, in the big red box of the AB, we saw a bandleader.

Who was moved to tears, a few times. That, or La Martin needs to get an Oscar for “Most convincing watery eyes while doing a concert”. Was it because the audience (beautiful girls in dresses, parents, kids, rockers, us) were singing along to her lyrics, to songs like Francis and Comme des Enfants? Could be. These songs, from her début, were written when she wasn’t as confident as she looked. When we was a teen, struggling with her emotions, trying to find the right words. Is what I’m guessing.

The genuine emotions of Béatrice, who smiled and laughed and joked a lot during the concert, were icing on a sweet, sticky musical cake. When she took it down a few notches, playing Cap Diamant from Blonde, inédit La Reine or (big surprise) Bedouin Soundclash’s Brutal Hearts, one could not help falling in love with her charm, her voice and the sheer quality of these songs. Halfway I could hear a booming American dj-voice in my head going ‘And the hits just keep on a-coming’: Place de la République, Les Amours Dévouées,  Le Long du Large, the singalong Pour un infidèle…what an amazing body of work, already. There were nice surprises (one of the French Followills changed from guitar to violin, his bass-playing cousin sometimes used a bow on his upright bass), but playing Adieu twice (second, and last song before the encore) and Comme des Enfants twice (as the very last song) annoyed me a little. Why no covers? I would’ve loved her version of, say, Lana del Rey’s Video Games. Or another Rihanna-take. Something. Anything.

But we were there. We were in the moment, like the rest of audience, like B. and her band. See for yourself.

(Picture was taken at the Bruxelles-show by @kmeron)

Coeur de Pirate (some more)

Dear Béatrice not only made a great second album, she’s spoiling the fans with extra tracks and collaborations. Out since today is her version of White Christmas (in French) as a guestvocalist of Michel Legrands Christmas-album. Sweeping! By the way, if you like heavily tattood, husky singing Canadian females, head over to Christmas-a-gogo and pick up a fuzzy seasonal song by Jody Glenham. Furthermore, I discovered that CdP sang a cover of Buddy Holly’s Everyday for a Canadian Activia-ad. Downloadable for free via Facebook, but I’ve made it easier. And finally a gorgeous bonustrack off of the Blonde-album, in which she namechecks Serge and Jane.

Coeur de Pirate – Everyday
Michel Legrand & Coeur de Pirate – Noel blanc
Coeur de Pirate – Prince-Arthur