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Françoiz Breut | Vingt à trente mille jours (Bella Union)
This french chanteuse released her first work on the Lithium label in 1997, helped by her more famous companion Dominique Ane (A). The self-titled album was a very low key affair but still shifted more than 15,000 units in France alone. However, her second album 4 years on, out on Simon Raymonde's label Bella Union reflects her obvious desire to change her sound and themes. The result is a more upbeat and bright affair ably helped along by, amongst others, Joey Burns of Calexico fame and the brilliant and distinctive guitar and arrangement work of Dominique A, still her companion and main compatriot. Her expressive and singular voice is carried along by beautiful, raw brass and string arrangements which often give the music a jazzy feel that fits the mood perfectly. When Joey Burns lends his english voix masculine on La chanson d'Helene', your spine freezes, every time! Si Tu Disais reminds me of Morricone, Silhouette Miniscule is a mini-suite with strings and percussion, Sans Souci is ballroom jazz. On L'Heure Bleue she literally whispers seductively in your ear accompanied by a distant keyboard drone and a lone banjo. The lyrics are filled with tales and anecdotes from her own and other's dreams, encompassing the much used topics of pain, love, longing, and honesty. The most fitting compliment I can muster is that, like a Carl Hiaasen book, it is nigh on impossible to ignore once you're hooked.
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001