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Some may like it, some may not. A loungy pleasure.
on July 8, 2010
"Raconte-moi" (in French for 'Tell me') is the latest Jazz CD realeased by the talented American vocalist Stacey Kent, who once again has delivered a brilliant collection of tracks, this time all sung in French.
On this pleasant offering, produced and arranged by her hubby, the accomplished British saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, she covers some staples of the French Chanson (hits by Barbara, Paul Misraki, Georges Moustaki, Henri Salvador, Michel Jonasz, Keren Ann et Benjamin Biolay, among the others) and sings some original material written by talented French songwriters expressely for her: the results is a an usual and 'chilled-out', loungy cocktail of French pop and contemporary jazz.
Over the years Stacey Kent has developed a distinctive sound based around gentle, jazzy grooves that radiate their own charm and warmth.
This charming album has a bright optimistic feel to it.
I like the opener, the classic Brazilian bossa nova "Waters of March" (Portuguese: "Águas de Março") by the genius of A.C. Jobim, with its gorgeous flute led percussion break.
Breezy songs like 'Jardin D'Hiver" (Winter Garden), a huge hit by the late French legend Henri Salvador, and the single "La Vénus du mélo" are simplicity personified. The soft Latin percussion provides a subtle and complimentary backdrop.
Also check the piano-drizzled "Sait-On Jamais", the nostalgic "Les Vacances au Bord De La Mer" and the atmospheric "Mi Amor", with some fantastic sax playing by Tomlinson.
Stacey's crystal-clear vocals bring to mind the style of Blossom Dearie, Italian/American Rossana Casale and Norway Siljee Nergaard.
The album "might dislodge some of those who've discovered Kent through her recent work with lyricists such as the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro...Enraptured club punters who cry "you're beautiful" are likely to go even weaker at the knees now the fragrances of French on songs such as Mon Amour are added to Kent's trademark intimacy...Searchers for edginess needn't look here, but for Kent's big fanclub, it'll be just perfect". - John Fordham
"The little-girl-lost voice and sibiliant esses that so irritate Stacey Kent listeners in Britain are 'de rigueur' in France, where her albums sell like gâteaux chaudes..... Stacey, no slouch in business matters, has responded by learning French well enough to sing it. Backed by her regular quartet, featuring the arrangements and saxophones of husband Jim Tomlinson, plus guest guitarist John Parricelli, she gives a dozen chansons a conversational intimacy which actually rather suits them. Recommended if you don't mind the word "nuit" to be pronounced "nu-wheesch". - Jack Massarik
"Given how harmless, accessible and inoffensive her music is, it's amazing that US-born, British-based vocalist Stacey Kent can provoke strong feelings in jazz fans, many of whom object to her cool breeziness and upbeat, angst-free singing.
This new collection, which pays homage to her mutual love affair with the French (it's sung entirely en Français), will reinforce the divide between those pro-Kent and against as it's all simple, airy, pretty, gentle and atmospheric". - Alison Kerr
This 12-track and 48-minutes album will appeal especially to those that enjoyed the beautiful album "The Lyric featuring Stacey Kent", where Stacey and Jim Tomlinson display a very sensitive touch on the ballads.
Every track is enjoyable, pretty, innocuous and easy to listen to, even if you do not speak or understand French.
Overall "Raconte-Moi" is a very pleasant release.
This is a good album, delivering a little something for everyone.
Excellent swinging jazz/pop out of France, that grooves in a relaxed vein and grows on you after a few spins.
So, is it French Pop or Jazz?
It's a pleasant, 'chilled-out' cocktail of both.
Quite simply, a loungy delight and an album that is uniquely nostalgic and contemporary.
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