Jeanne Cherhal

Leau

by Imran Khan

28 August 2007

 

L’eau and Behold

A rising pop-star in France, Jeanne Cherhal has been recording albums since 2002, earning plaudits as a remarkable live performer while continuing to release superbly-crafted music. If her previous effort, Douze Fois par An, was the fresh bud of a young artist learning her craft, then L’eau is that bud beginning to flower. A varied album of groove and melody, L’eau is as fluid as its title would suggest. Just when you think you’ve got the album stylistically pinned, the currents change—from the percussive jubilance of the title-track’s Native American rhythms to the regal big-band waltz of “Une Tonne”. Indeed these songs here are new but they retain the charm of a well-thumbed, care-worn vinyl record that wears a deep groove in the listener’s heart. And yet, at the same time, each play becomes a fresh overturning of musical earth, revealing new surprises while digging new depths. Meanwhile, Cherhal’s vocals affect each song with an almost detached Parisian-cool. Just hear the way she ends off with a typically French flourish of her pipes on the Afro-pop opener “Canicule”, or how she turns “Tu m’attires” into an airy, billowy affair, as if singing it with a mouthful of clouds. Cherhal does not ignore the call of radio either; the clever wordplay of lead-single “Voila” features a hook so strong it could reel in an oil tanker. L’eau is slow-working magic. It’s not as immediate as most pop records but it’s lovingly crafted and, above all, consistent. Once it gets beneath your skin, you find it hard to part with. Under the simple set up of piano, drums, bass and guitar, Cherhal floods the album with wry observations, underwater dreams and a sense of purpose.

L’Eau

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