Claire Keim

January is not even halfway, but the first fragile highlight of the year is here: debut-record Ou Il Pleuvra by actress/singer Claire Keim. Her single (written by Ours) was a pretty affair, but the short-but-sweet-album is very, very good. If you like Vanessa Paradis-soundalikes who vocally lick your earlobes, that is. As I understand it, most songs were written or co-written by Claire herself, Ours lend a hand and so did the great Francis Cabrel. First he worked with the gorgeous Souad Massi, now he wrote the album’s title track for Keim. Nice going, Francis! Claire’s album is melody-rich, sensual, sunny, playful and 60s influenced. No, Tel que tu es isn’t a Charlotte Gainsbourg-cover, but the use of rhythm guitar, phat piano and Claire singing about being naked, it sure is reminiscent of one legendary smoker. NSFW-movieclips of Claire here. Her husband, a former footballer and now European jui-jitsu champion, is this guy.

Claire Keim – Ou Il Pleuvra

In other news: Revista 69 has the new Yelle single. HERE. (And a whole bunch of other blogs too)

Souad Massi

Souad Massi, ‘Algeria’s answer to Tracy Chapman’, duets on her new album with Paul Weller and Francis Cabrel. This RFI-interview makes a big thing out of the fact that she sings in French. It’s hardly the first time the blackhaired beauty sings the language of love, she duetted with Marc Lavoine and sang two French songs on her second album Deb. The duet with Weller is quite boring, but the one with Cabrel is great. The song has a great drive, the rockrhythm and the Arabic instrumentation go well together and Cabrel nails the Arabic verse. Souad: ‘It was outrageous! I wrote out the words for him phonetically and he got it right in a single recording. Impressive stuff.’ So is the jazzy, upright bass-driven song ‘Stop pissing me off’ on her new album. She really means it.
The atmosphere of the duet with Cabrel reminds me of the work of Dutch (-based) collective NO Blues. They started five years ago as a project to mix Arabic music and American folk, hence their ‘Arabicana’ moniker. Now, four albums under their belt, they end their journey with help from some African artists as well. Hela Hela, the new album, is (again) a great culture clash. Nothing to do with French singing girls (though they did record one French track), but so what?

Souad Massi & Francis Cabrel – Toute reste a faire
NO Blues – Le