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Charlotte gives Beck a new voice
on January 30, 2010
Chalotte Gainsbourg has had a rollercoaster of a life since the release of her last album, 5:55 in 2006. In 2007, she played Claire, a French artist who became one of Bob Dylan's wives in the movie I'm Not There. The same year, she fell victim to a water skiing accident that violently shook her brain and could have easily paralyzed or killed her. After undergoing emergency surgery, Charlotte was miraculously fine, but she had numerous M.R.I. scans afterwards to verify her stable condition. The title of this new album, the French term for M.R.I., clearly reflects Charlotte's mindset as this new album was produced.
Although Charlotte is the sole vocalist on all but one of the tracks on IRM, a great deal of the creative control on this solo record, including the majority of the songwriting credit, is given to Beck Hansen, commonly known as Beck. From the first measure of "Master's Hands," the lead track on IRM, Beck's influence is easily recognizable. Gainsbourg had already seemed to channel Beck's Mellow Gold on 5:55, but IRM captures the more experimental and percussive side of Beck heard on "Modern Guilt," Beck's most recent release.
The title track, "IRM", cleverly uses sample sounds of a running M.R.I. machine as the lyrics "Take a picture, what's inside? Ghost image in my mind" are sung by an intentionally emotionless Gainsbourg. While references to her life after the accident are not always so blatantly present, they can often be found hidden within a verse or chorus; Beck's obvious attempt to keep the music relative to the artist singing. The only track on which Beck does sing, Heaven Can Wait, he and Charlotte share nearly every word with a perfect balance. Neither Beck nor Gainsbourg are particularly gifted vocalists, but their lack of refinement seems to give an additional honesty to the words being sung.
It seems strange to call this a Charlotte Gainsbourg solo album with Beck's influence reigning over every last aspect of the work, but what started as a small recording session between the two blossomed into an incredible success. Charlotte's last record, certified platinum in France, never achieved much success in the US, but with a little help from the cunning king of musical imagery, I have no doubt IRM will finally provide her with the recognition she deserves.
Similar Artists: Beck, Regina Spektor
Track Suggestion: IRM