Monday, 25 January 2010

The First Lady of French Pop

When I first noticed that Europe's coolest first lady, Carla Bruni, was doing a stint on Jools Holland a few months back to promote her new album, I immediately assumed, as many of us must have, that it was some mere vanity project, existing only to boost the ego of a woman with impossible opportunity at her fingertips.

I didn't watch the show that night, but when, a couple of weeks back, I saw a massive pile of her album on sale for 99p by the checkout of my local hyper-discount record store, I reckoned it would be worth less than a quid of my money to see what horrors were inprinted on this shiny round disc. I rushed home, chucked it onto my stereo and prepared to giggle.

What I wasn't expecting was for it to be not only listenable, but a cracking little album. Bruni's breathy, minimalist style brings to mind the kind of husky teen ingenue that old rogues like Serge Gainsbourg used to get the best out of back in the day. Indeed, Bruni's backstory probably hindered sales of Comme Si de Rien n'Etait (translated as a somewhat knowing As If Nothing Happened) rather than encouraged them. But don't let her status as Sarkozy's missus, and her track record as an indulged heiress and lover of the powerful put you off, because it's a lovely album.

A little digging in the crates led me to discover that this is in fact her third album, her debut Quelqu'un M'a Dit being released some five years before she met the guvnor of France. This album is every bit as good as her more recent effort, Bruni's butterfly thin voice fluttering across gossamer thin melodies and brittle song structures. I was expecting something of far more bombast and bluster, but instead enjoy the floaty light brightness of her body of music work.

Her middle album, No Promises, was a little more poncey, putting to music the words of WB Yeats, Emily Dickinson, WH Auden and many more dusty old poets, and is currently trying to fit work on her fourth disc, including a collaboration with that old musical hack Lenny Kravitz, in between her civic duties and philanthropic doings. But as much as you try you can't knock her two albums of French language original songs. Seriously, if you see them going cheap somewhere give them a pop, as you may be pleasantly surprised.

And whatever you think of the woman personally, could you imagine what kind of album the other spouses of the leaders of the world would put out? Sarah Brown, get the singing lessons in - you've got three months to get the album out and help save your old man his job!

 All pictures © of their respective owners
Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips. 

1 comment:

  1. I can confirm that everything you say is true. I was sent a couple of her albums by pluggers when I was doing the show. It wasn't right for the programme but on a personal level I enjoyed it. You've made me regret not hanging on to them now. I'm having to cull the CD collection and needs must. Oh well. If you like Bruni then you should check out the Marianne Dissard album "L'entredeux". She sings with Calexico sometimes.