De rouille et d’os

meliscoverIndeed not another sweet bedroom voice from the French doll house: The gravelly timbre of 32-year-old singer Melissmell – coming from the départment Ardèche in the southeast of France – occasionally sounds like a mixture of Gianna Nannini and Melanie Safka. The ten songs of her second album Droit dans la gueule du loup (Straight to the Lion’s Den), all written by singer/ songwriter fellow Guillaume Favray, are melancholia stuff about the animal triste, rust, rage and bones, clothed in sparse arrangements with cloudy keyboard/ piano moods and forlorn industrial-spheric ondes Martenot frequencies, especially on the Cormac McCarthy-influenced La Route. The special prize of the jury goes to Daniel Jamet for the unique guitar work. Great cover art, too.

Melissmell – Rock’n’Roll
Melissmell – La route

New stuff

Lots of new albums and singles are released this week. While we’re waiting on the new Barbara Carlotti-album, we can enjoy the new (7th) cd by bestest French rockband Dionysos, of course featuring the ultra-lovely Babet. She’s duetting with Mathias Malzieu on the track posted here, from an album that’s based on a novel written by Malzieu, about the world’s most unfortunate stuntman. Malzieu also pops up on the second album by Carmen Maria Vega, who traded her manouche-influences for more eclectic ones. CMV refers to The Clash, for instance, but count Les Rita Mitsouko in too. Jack & Jenny’s released their first single – not a boy-girl duo, but two guys who sound very feminine. Diana Léa sure is a girl, she’s a guest on David Parienti’s just-released album that sounds very, very sultry. Finally a track from Soan‘s sophomore cd, with added vocals by Melissmell (who herself released a new EP).

Dionysos – La sirène & le Pygmalion
Carmen Maria Vega & Mathias Malzieu – Miaaou
Jack & Jenny’s – Où tu veux
David Parienti & Diane Lea – Était ce utile?
Soan & Melissmell – A tire d’aile


Melissmell, named after her grandmother’s perfumes, just released an album that of course kicks off with her majestic version of the French national anthem. With her hoarse voice, she resembles 80s icon Guesch Patti. I’m not getting all the lyrics on her album Ecoute s’il pleut, but the use of a wind-up toypiano, pizzicato strings, dramatic piano and songs like Le silence de l’agneau (Silence of the lamb), my guess is Melissmell sings about her youth in the Ardeche, her grandma and her dreams as a teen. And of course, listening to the rain. Closing track L’éveil is my favourite.

Melissmell – L’éveil


Raised in the Ardèche, named after etheric oils her grandmother used, Melissmell debuts with an EP that features a rework of the French national anthem. Called Aux Armes. Any Gainsbourg-fan would wanna know what she did with it. I’d say she Raphael-ized it, added dramatic strings, marching band-drums and musical drop-downs (I mean: the music comes and goes), not unlike Raphael did on his majestic Caravane album. There’s a Brel-influence there as well. And yes, she quotes those immortal words Serge uttered: ‘Aux Armes etcaetera’. Serge remixed Rouget de Lisles anthem as a statement about integration (in the late 70s, mind you): you’re really a part of the state if you know the national hymn so well, you can remix it the way you like it. Still powerful, methinks. Melissmell was trained as a graphic designer but drifted into the music. No surprise for a girl who could sing before she could speak. On her album she worked with some big French guns, but I heard only the EP. Not a fragile fille, more a girl with big lungs and big plans. See a nice acoustic session here.

Mellissmell – Aux armes