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Au Masculin – Amandine Bourgeois

In which Amandine covers an album’s worth of famous French standards by male songwriters. It’s all in a sophisticated, adult pop style, with occasional outbursts of ‘party’. It’s most suitable for a) a drive in a convertible past fields of sunflowers, b) dinner a deux with your honey and c) soundtracking a light-hearted but artistic French rom com.

The track listing is a bit eccentric. Rather than leading with the songs that sound like big pop hits – the perplexing, funky Mona Lisa Klaxon, the warm-hearted, aptly danceable Dansez Sur Moi, or even her big song from the other year, L’enfer en moi, she starts off with a sequence of fairly low-key ballady chanson. But that’s probably me not understanding how a Francophone pop album is structured.

In other news about me not having any knowledge of the French pop scene, there’s a very special song on this album. I’d never heard of ‘Paris s’eveille’ before listening to this album, where Amandine sings it in an extremely spirited, almost rockabilly duet with Cali, but when I was looking for a video of her singing it live, I found that this is actually one of the most important songs in the French pop canon, that it became an anthem of the Paris protests in 1968, and that it is generally regarded as being one of the most important songs about Paris. This is the kind of story that you miss if you don’t listen outside your own pop landscape. But anyway, Amandine and Cali’s version is fabulous, and sold me the whole album, which is a great jumping on point if you want to get into classic French pop.

Other excellent songs on this album are the decidedly Goldfrapp-esque version of Madame Rêve, Alors Un Dance which is moody, wordy and I think quite rude. Throughout the whole album, the instrumentation is warm, acoustic and jazzy. There’s some lovely guitar work throughout – Alors Un Dance is constructed from two contrasting riffs that fit together beautifully. The only thing that falls short of the rest is Love Me, Please Love Me, which is so cheesy and 1950’s in song structure and tone that I am pretty sure that it’s inclusion is sarcastic. Special mention for La rua Madureira which uses Amandine’s breathiest tone to take us to an island where the bouganvillea clings to the white-washed cottages and all the girls dance on the terraces in the evening.

It’s very good. Give it a listen.

Amandine has a website where you can listen to the whole album

Amandine is on Spotify

 

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