Lara Fabian: self-titled

Lara Fabian
Lara Fabian

Lara Fabian names as her influences Barbara Streisand and Freddie Mercury of Queen. Both of these singers have their moments, if they’re not exactly top of the “cool critics” list, I’ll admit. But the difference between them as far as I can perceive is that Streisand, a fine interpretive singer at times, fell victim to the “artist’s disease,” of transferring high-and-mighty qualities to your work until you are lost in a sea of unwarranted pretension. Mercury, on the other hand, always knew that Queen was a pop band, and a damn good one, which is no small thing to be. I’m told that he once compared their music to tissue paper. Not meaning to denigrate them — after all, tissue paper is an immensely useful thing when you need it, but it is also definitively disposable (also see: Culture Club, but that’s another story). Fabian gives me the impression of someone who thinks that her tissue paper is designer embroidered.

This album is the first in the English language (mostly) by the Belgian-born singer Fabian. She makes disco-diva “power woman” music in the “I Believe” mold and Spanish-influnced ballads like the kind Madonna cuts periodically. Add to this some of the bombastic wailing Celine Dion indulges in, and I imagine you have a pretty good idea of what this is. It has the potential to be a major hit (“I Will Love Again,” the first single, did top the Billboard dance charts) and very forgettable. I mean forgettable — I’ve listened to it twice as I write this and I couldn’t whistle you a melody from it. And someone should have told her that putting songs called “Givin’ Up On You,” “Till I Get Over You,” “Till I Love Again,” and “I Will Love Again” on the same album speaks of a certain lack of lyrical inventiveness.

The songwriting is negligible, the performances merely competent session-musician style. But it is the kind of work of which it’s practitioners typically say things like “I don’t make music for critics, but for the people!” So: People, here’s some music for you. I’ve tried to give on an idea of what you can expect. Or, as reviewer Don Thompson used to say: For people who like this sort of thing, this is the kind of thing you will like. For me, sometimes I think the strongest argument in favor of feminism is that I might never have to hear another “power woman” song again. Perhaps that’s just a dream, but I will survive…