Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-11-17
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest

Charlotte Gainsbourg has a double career, one as an established French actress and the other as an occasional international singer. While some of the movies have raised a few eyebrows (Nymphomania), as far as her music career went on her previous three albums, she had some really big shoes to fill, the gargantuan pair of her father’s, and no matter what you think of her singing, her mother’s too. Those three albums ranged from very interesting to really good, but always had certain traces of insecurity showing, particularly when it came to lyrics. Each of those albums had collaborations in that department, albeit the ones she chose with very good taste - Jarvis Cocker, Air, Beck…

Her new album Rest is quite a departure, not only in the respect that she wrote all the deeply personal lyrics (even though she was offered to collaborate on them with somebody like the novelist Michell Houllebecq), but in the fact that she was able to fully match them with music of pure excellence. Not that she didn’t have collaborators, but again, either they showed her great taste (Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, producer SebastiAn, Connan Mocasin, Owen Pallett) or great taste chose her (a certain Sir Paul McCartney). And what collaborations they are - Homem-Cristo’ opener “Ring-A-Ring O’Roses” which stylistically pays obvious homage to Charlotte’s father Serge, without being an imitation or mimicry, while McCartney’s “Songbird In Cage” shows all that qualifies as something he wrote, but smartly foiled in by producer SebastiAn. Oh, McCartney dropped in to play a few instruments himself.

Still, with all the collaborations, it is a genuinely a Charlotte Gainsbourg album, primarily due to the very personal nature of Charlotte’s lyrics. “Lying With You” is devoted to her father Serge’s death (“At the corner of your mouth, a streak/You wouldn’t have liked”), “Kate” is devoted to her half-sister Kate Barry, who also died in a freak accident, and all the rest cover snapshots from her life from early childhood (“Ring-A-Ring O’Roses”) to deep introspection (I’m A Lie”).

The music itself absolutely matches the lyrics, ranging from lush orchestrations to Giorgio Moroder-like disco, where sometimes the happy rhythms would work against some gloomy observations (the closer “Les Oxalis”, dealing with walking through a cemetery). A lot of it seems to be influenced by soundtrack music that stuck in Charlotte’s mind - from Pino Donaggio to Georges Delrue. Interestingly, a lot of those are connected to the fact that her father insisted she watched horror classics like Carrie and Shining as part of her teenage education. Her choice of choosing SebastiAn as the producer turns out to be a full hit, as he was able to transform Charlotte’s ideas into a true better and sweet combination.

A ‘bittersweet’ success of an album.

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