Melodie Française (2013) ★ ★ ★ 1/2
We may seem far from a world of heightened suffering and melodramatic love affairs but the Australian reworking of French classics on Melodie Française could be the perfect soundtrack to a wine-heavy dinner party. Francophiles will love it – there is more value upon recognising the originals – but the album speaks to any music lover.
Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow and Gossling open the album – the two seem to have spearheaded the project together – with ‘La Minute de Silence’. Between Gow’s deep drawl and Gossling’s high harmony it works well and sets the romantic (yet heartbroken) mood for the rest of the soundtrack.
There is plenty of Françoise Hardy on there – from Kate Miller-Heidke’s sensitive fresh interpretation of melancholy ballad “Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux” to Jinja Safari’s more upbeat take of “Le Temps de L’Amour”.
While Miller-Heidke’s cover brings voice to the fore with overlay, Jinja Safari include tribal percussion and sitar for an oriental twist (as well as female vocalist from Sydney Okenyo with an impressive accent). As you can already tell - in true French style - “l’amour” is a grand theme.
Standout track is “Bonnie & Clyde”, brought to us by Deep Sea Arcade, which is a little more playful than other tracks on the album. Where there were Bardot’s wispy vocals, this cover has a surging chorus with a dark and slightly psychedelic twist. It has a great energy and it’s clear why it was chosen as the first single.
Still in high energy, Dappled Cities generate an echoey upbeat sound for “Sexy Boy”, The Jezabelsbuild a strong layered background to “Morgane de toi” and Husky explore dynamics in a smooth groove for “Le Berger”.
“Bang Bang”, covered by Lisa Mitchell, was an interesting choice for the album, especially as English-speaking audiences are mainly familiar with the vocals of Cher and Nancy Sinatra.
In total control, Thelma Plum covers (not an easy act to follow) “the sparrow” – Edith Piaf- in what has almost become an anthem “La Vie En Rose”. It is slightly slower than the original and the minimalist arrangement showcases Plum’s voice.
In some parts more than others, it seems as if everyone has taken to whispering the lyrics in an attempt to channel the seductive French singers. Nevertheless there’s a great variety of tunes which showcase the work and musical depth of young Australia musicians.
Published on theAUreview.