Zaz: Paris

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Alchemy on the Seine

Listening Post 28. When a singer is gutsy enough to do an album of classic Paris chansons—even someone like Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy), with two hit records behind her—you can bet the army of Paris-lovers will be ready to pass judgment. Verdict: Putting a “mission accomplished” stamp on this leap into the greatest musical canon of any city anywhere would be an understatement. Zaz soars over the City of Light and makes a smooth landing on the Champs Elysées. In songs like Paris sera toujours Paris (Paris Will Always Be Paris, video 1) and Sous le ciel de Paris (Under the Paris Sky, video 2), her resonant voice, bouncy style and peerless band go beyond capturing a golden age. Her alchemy of high-energy insouciance and an attitude entirely of today yields a dizzying reverence that takes us back even as it brings the songs into our own time. Her arrangements are mostly jazzy, but she plays with the dials. She’s more traditional in La complainte de la butte (Montmartre Lament)—you feel the ache of the despondent as they climb the steps and the lightness of lovers protected by the windmill’s wings—and conversational in the rollicking ballad La parisienne. There’s much more on this album, including two new songs by Zaz that blend new classics seamlessly with the old. Alors, if you love Paris… (Warner Music France/Play On)

 


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