Magda Giannakou was born in Greece and lives in New York but songs have been coming to her most easily, she says, when she writes the lyrics in French. “It was pure fun, a new shining toy. I just wanted to keep doing it.” She’s been working in music for a while, usually as a composer or arranger, sometimes as an accordionist, but this album is about her voice and a character she’s created with that voice: a French ingénue, a breathy lollypop naïf with a little helium sigh and a way of saying the word caramel so that it sounds like three sex-heavy syllables: “ca!-rra-mel.” The album is starry with bossa nova, starry with lounge. So far so pleasant, but then there’s this moment when she’s singing about her bandmate Mika Mimura in “La Japonaise” and the voice’s artificial surface breaks character very slightly, it grips the lyrics roughly, as if this line is an autobiographical detail that affects the singer in a more direct place than the word “ca-ra-mel,” which makes me think that a closer merger between this ingénue and Giannakou’s everyday not-ingénue self might make an even more interesting album in the future.
// Notes from the Road
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