[7 April 2011]
Playful recreation of ‘30s and ‘40s French popular songs, adapted for ukulele, banjo, viola, cello, trumpet, and sung by two New Yorkers in American-accented French. The music is appealing to begin with—it’s jaunty, witty, cynical or romantic, with strong hooks—and the Chauds Lapins don’t ask it to change.
The viola swings, the trumpet warbles in an old-fashioned confidential sepiatone, and when Meg Reichardt has to sing Je t’aime three times in succession she gives each iteration its own personality, lifting her voice and finishing the final t’aime with a curl. Kurt Hoffman hits the right tone in Charles Trenet’s “Quand J’etais Petit”, rueful yet comic.
Love, in these songs, is aware of its own delirious state and willing to share the details, winning you over, like the child in the playground who will preempt the bullies and try to make them laugh by exaggerating her faults. “What infinite sweetness / It’s exquisite, marvellous / Our two eyes, dazzled, / They crossed”. (The band’s translation.)