Francesca Blanchard: Deux Visions

blanchard1Double Down Payoff

Listening Post 67. Francesca Blanchard’s debut album is rich in the contrasts on which art thrives—connection/solitude, wisdom/experience, anxiety/uplift. As for the form/content duality that animates critics, she offers a soft and stunning voice and incisive lyrics, carried aloft by a blend of folk and French chanson, accented with jazz, country and pop touches. At the album’s heart, the two visions—more complementary than contrasting—reflect the tension and creativity of Blanchard’s bilingual life (French father, American mother). Deux Visions is divided into six self-written songs in each of her parental languages, deeply personal ballads that paint vivid images as she simultaneously finger picks her guitar and tugs on heartstrings. Rame (Row) channels struggle and endurance: “The ocean is so troubled/The shore is out of view,” she sings. “The storm is approaching/Darkest thoughts encroaching” (video 1). Tu n’existes pas (You Don’t Exist), is a whimsical parody of imaginary love: “You read all my thoughts/When you look into my eyes,” she posits, “It’s the world that I’ve invented/You’re just a dream that I have rented” (video 2). One of the loveliest tracks in English is Now That You Are Gone, a mellow/melancholy look back on first romance, with a coda of innocence: “I will never love again/Like I loved you” (video 3). Other autobiographical songs include Le Blues, about finding her place in her family; Wanderer, about searching for her niche in the world; and Home Is a Cage, describing her effort to embody an 80-year-old Polish immigrant for a college play. Blanchard’s oeuvre embraces many facets that all come together in one voice; however you divide the elements, it adds up to a penetrating and luxurious vision. (Cumbancha)

 


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