France's unassuming chanteur nudges the heartstrings gently with his latest effort.
Albin de la Simone has been quietly turning out albums in his native France for a little over a decade now, updating the pop sensibilities of nouvelle chanson with each successive record. Nowhere near the level of popularity of his fellow countrymen, Benjamin Biolay, Coralie Clément and Keren Ann, de la Simone works from a point of understatement, writing low-key pop songs that take time to work their way under the skin. The singer-songwriter’s newest, Un Homme, favours a softer, more delicate approach that sees him stripping away the poppier rhythms of his previous effort, Bungalow!, for a sparser, more dreamy sentiment of love.
Opening with the steady, circular strums of “Mes épaules”, a folk-pop tune of simple elegance, de la Simone sets a tone of naval-gazing reticence; there’s a pondering sadness to the proceedings that hovers unobtrusively. The gentle shimmer of “Ici hier” and the title-track’s ticking clock-rhythms betray the unassuming charm of the singer’s plaintive voice, which sooths as much as it probes. Some numbers give way to more sway, such as on the drum-shuffle pop of “Ma crise” and “Tu vas rire”, adding volume to his quiet grief. But for the most part, de la Simone keeps it under his hat.