Lycinaïs Jean

Arc de Triomphe

Listening Post 168. She has the look of today’s youth—pierced, tattooed, androgynous—and the soul of romantic poets through the ages. She blends her music but refuses to blend herself, or calibrate her career arc according to market forces. And therein may rest the spark of the singer-songwriter’s prodigious talent. On her debut eponymous album, Lycinaïs Jean (“Jean” pronounced as in Billie Jean), with roots in Guadeloupe and Martinique, now living in Paris, employs an acoustic Caribbean pop base, veined with zouk, folk, reggae and R&B. There’s also her tender voice, with lyrics (in French, Creole and English) dancing into the air as nimbly as her fingers dance across guitar strings. The album is all love songs—joyous, doleful, secret, aspirational. Aimer (Love), separating the real thing from pale substitutes, is perfectly scored, from opening breath to the delightful closing vocable, “Stabedouba-pap” (video 1). Passion fuels Parfait tourment (Perfect Torture)—title notwithstanding, it hurts good (video 2); while L’arc en ciel (Rainbow) is a poet’s musing on intimacy. A single song, of course, can mean a million things to a million listeners, but there’s a conscious double dimension to Lycinaïs’ repertoire—the ballads are universal but some videos show her particular experience. When she released Mwen Enméw (I Love You) as a single, the companion clip showed her as she is, in a same-sex relationship (video 3); in conservative West Indian society it was a first, and a sensation, attracting three million YouTube views (with more positive than critical comments), but for a time it seemed there was more focus on her sexuality than on her music. Today the attention is where it belongs, on a gifted artist and her songs. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the arc of love, too, is long, bending not only toward happiness, but also justice. (Melmax Records)

 

Aimer/Love
(from French)
You baby
I’m so different from you/So admiring of what you are
Other than you, I wouldn’t miss anything, believe me
Because you complete me/I live and I don’t go crazy anymore

I thought I was loved before
I even loved without loving
But I was without direction, without knowing how to appreciate it

I breathe, I breathe you in, you inspire me in my everyday life, baby
I feel you, I really feel you, I protect you, there can be no doubt, baby
I fell in love, and I think it shows in my eyes/In my attitude toward you
Let no one be deceived

After many stopovers, I’ve finally landed in paradise

 

Parfait tourment/Perfect Torment
(from French)
Even if I spent my time/Acting as if
I was far ahead/Believing I could escape
Through my passion/And, the reality remains the same

And even if you spent your time/Acting as if
You were just as before/I wouldn’t be convinced
I won’t admit defeat because
In the space of one night/We gave our lives to one another

I die, I live/To love you against the odds
I cry, I laugh/I can’t explain it, but I feel it
I die, I live/You are my perfect torment
I cry, I laugh/I can’t explain it but I understand it

I knew you by heart/Before approaching you
I know you by body/Your curves and your birthmarks
The sun was golden/Before approaching you
Your smile, a treasure

 

Mwen Enméw/I Love You
(from Creole)
How/After all this time
Waiting for your return
You deign to give me another chance/So we can walk love’s path together

Like you/I repressed my feelings
I tried to take another direction/To cherish someone else, but I still have you in my veins
And I have you in my soul, baby/You’re the only one I take seriously
The first ray of sunshine in the morning/Have no doubt what binds us
After so much time, my teddy bear/I love you

Even if there were two like you, I’d choose you
I love you/Read it in my eyes
Put your hand against my heart/Take what it gives you
It chose you/Don’t let dark ideas overtake us

Don’t let demons break into our dreams/Please don’t let them control our lives
Because love takes two…

 

 

 

 


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