Singers are like a ram horn to the soul. They are players with a complete control of their voice. It doesn’t mean they have to be in pitch. It means they have to be in a total hold of their instrument, regarding of mathematics. Dylan was a great singer, but academically – he was shit. Still, no one could take away his amazing song deliverance from him. This quality of his allowed him to sing 11 minutes of Desolation Row, and still keep you interested, nine minutes into the song. He has authenticity.
Tom Waits sings Alice like a rusty frog, but he’s such a great actor, that it feels ok jumping of a fairy cross the Hudson. Jacques Brel was a great singer, but one shot of his eyes in Ne Me Quitte Pas, to understand that he doesn’t sing. He cries. With his entire body.
Francoiz Breut isn’t just a great singer. She’s an amazing singer. Her authenticity does everything, and as far as I’m concerned, she can sing the entire phone book of Lion – doesn’t matter, she convinces me.
My first encounter with Francoiz, like many other current French musicians, was through the Israeli musician Eli Rozen. He introduced me to his hero Dominique A and from there on I started investigating the French territory.
I didn’t know her when he gave me her 2001 album Vingt À Trente Mille Jours. It took some time for me to like and understand it, and it’s not because of language barriers, it just didn’t kick in.
The next time I listened to the album, I paid extra attention to the song Si Tu Disais. She was so convincing, and the strings arrangement was just perfect, that it felt like finding an island of truth. I listen to so much music, but I hear so little truth. There are billions of saxophone players out there, but only one Coltrane. And the truth is the secret.
Francoiz with Calexico, performing Si Tu Disais
A L’aveuglette is Francoiz’s fourth album and it seems like she’s been through a lot. Eight years and endless little self-developments brought her to an almost perfect album of one of the most beautiful, authentic voices I’ve heard in recent years. If you’d ask me what makes this album so great, I’d say it’s all about the songs at first, but the production is crucial here. The arrangements are something between sixties pop like Claudine Longet or Nancy (songs like Les Jeunes Pousses), to more glamorous songs like the title song.
Francoiz Breut – Les Jeunes Pousses
But don’t get me wrong, the nice and beautiful arrangements doesn’t leave the listener with an impression of a fifties chansionner. No no. we’re talking about an actress here, with an inner world that includes happiness aside to deep and dark melancholy (Nebulex Bonhomme), and some hints of bands like Califone with bluesy Telecaster guitar, burning down the ear (Dunkerque). Maybe it’s the fact she lives in Belgium these days that brought her closer to the north, that les beautiful pieces like 2013, with its heavenly vibes and voices that sound like Sigur Ros.
But it’s not only the production and songwriting that make this album what it is. It’s also the synergy between the musicians in the album that brought life to 14 little gems, almost all of them are the product of mutual songwriting. In past records, Breut sang other people’s songs, now she became a more crucial in songwriting. A third. But I should mention the other 2/3 of participants, Boris Gronemberger who played Banjo, bass, drums, percussion, strings arrangements and vibes. Also Luke Rambo played keyboards and piano. These two guys, along with Francoiz, wrote, produced and played the entire album – and this is what I’m talking about when I’m referring to synergy. They created a pile of talent that led to a beautiful album.
In English, it’s impressive that someone can sing a repetitive song 11 minutes and still keep you hooked, but when it happens for an entire album in foreign language – that’s really impressive. In the new French pop/rock movement, Francoiz brought a very strong album to the pantheon in 2008, and if you never heard her, this is your best chance to do so.
Buy : Insound