About a year ago I discovered Zaz, née Isabelle Geffroy. I played her versatile debut album so much, it became irritable and I had to disband her for a while. For otherwise I’d grow an aversion to French variété and gypsy-songs that would never be cured. Anyhoo, with Zaz’s new album Recto Verso in the shops and summer coming up, it sure is time for some uncut French pop.
The dog’s bollocks of Zaz’s style are her ballads. Sure, she can sing sunny songs like single On Ira or the upbeat Oublie Loulou (Charles Aznavour), but everyone has to be really quiet when the singer seems to start a slow song. ‘Cause Zaz and ballads go together like a horse and carriage. They don’t cause any dental damage because of sweetness – in my humble opinion that is. She chooses not to sing about fluffy lovey dovey stuff, but about the heartache, the despair. Her voice gets rough, the edge is showing. If you listen to a line of those ballads, you suddenly realise how comforting those songs are to you. Check out La Lessive for instance. Or Port Coton, from her debut.
The song Si Je Perds isn’t as tranquil als Port Coton, or as stripped down as Trop Sensible or Si. It’s as compelling as La Lessive, but I call it a ballad because of the melancholy way she’s singing and the sketchy arrangement. When Si Je Perds starts, you just have to listen. With full attention, so turn up the volume, close all windows and doors. Start off fresh. The guitar part makes you want to do this. Zaz’s most compelling talents, her raspy voice and narrative songs, are beautifully combined in this great ballad.
So, phew, tradition is upheld, I can carry on now. With finding out what the hell this song’s about, for instance.