Dan Storper, like Walt Disney, has a vision of his company’s product—it will “make you feel good,” he cultivates one area of the sound-world, dislikes another, searches for the combination that will clarify the ideal: “Originally we were going to focus on vintage recordings of popular French songs. But there were many challenges to using old recordings and it just wasn’t clicking.” I wondered what had happened. The sound, was it too crackly? The rights, ridiculously expensive? And why is France being covered again while I’m in asking-questions mode: are we ever going to get the Vintage Former Yugoslavia?
Anyway, Putumayo solved its problem, whatever it was, by recording the tracks again with modern singers, tweaking the music—you assume—until it was just the way Dan Storper wanted it, either lovelier or cheaper or something else. It’s carefree and waltzy, with that accordion that says, “You are in a Paris café, your bun is a brioche, here is “La Javannaise” sung by Madeleine Peyroux, whom you may remember from Putumayo presents Women of Jazz.” This album is played on the upswing, moments that could have groaned down into suggestiveness hop up into innocence instead. The songs might be old, but they don’t sound lived-in. There’s no dirt on them—they’re clean.