Italian-born/French-raised chanteuse Bruni has written a poignant record establishing her as an undeniably gorgeous new voice to American ears. With two previous records, heralded in her home of Europe, Bruni's current creation is her first English language album to hit US shores via Downtown records. Carla's fascination and appreciation of the language prompted her to make an album comprised of her favorite poems (from Emily Dickinson to WH Auden to William Butler Yeats), interpreting them into delicate and introspective songs. Profound, potent, and imbued with a delicate beauty.
"Come, let me sing into your ear," purrs Carla Bruni to open her second album, her French/Italian heritage betrayed in a pan-European accent that's as breathy and relaxing as a summer afternoon nap on the Riviera. Though the prospect of a former supermodel's career exploits is sometimes prettier than others (depends if you prefer the Project Runway pronouncements of Heidi Klum or the talk show/tabloid antics of Tyra Banks), Carla Bruni approaches music armed with something of a legitimate pedigree, both her parents having been musicians in their own right. Calling the album No Promises
may reflect some intentional lowering of expectations for Bruni's experiment here, setting 11 reverently-chosen lyric poems by the likes of Emily Dickenson, W.B. Yeats, and Dorothy Parker to her own mellow, wispy music and pleasant voice. Where artists like Feist or Keren Ann use spare instrumentation and airy vocals to achieve delicacy and nuance, the compositions on No Promises
seem to run together without much to distinguish one from another, and the result is neither offensive nor particularly inspirational. Maybe next time Carla Bruni will inject a little more fire into her belly and add some sparkle to her hushed soundscape. --Ben Heege