Nour: Après L’orage

The Poetry of Storms

Listening Post 178. They can be meteorological or emotional, a vortex of personal, political or technological upheaval or even (nowadays) a whirlwind of Tweets. Storms typically require cleanup, but what about the flip side—the light that’s more lucid, the ungoverned mess that mixes things up, leaving arrangements never before seen but that, just maybe, make logical or absurdist sense? What about fear and insecurity weathered and what we learn from it all? Nour isn’t, strictly speaking, a scholar, but on Après L’orage (After the Storm), her third album, the Swiss singer-songwriter offers an 11-track treatise on redecorated landscapes. She examines life through a tempestuous lens, mixing French chanson, jazz and a bit of doo-wop; random items like forks and windshield wipers, bicycle bells and electric razors, with more traditional instruments; and her breathtaking voice. Is childbirth a storm? Judging by Vol au Vent (Swept Away), the sleepless chaos and unbridled joy of parenting are in harmony with a baby’s busy box (video 1). In the ether between the science of storms and the revolutionary nature of scientific discovery is Lumière Bleue (Blue Light), which Nour wrote for the soundtrack of the biopic Marie Curie, the Courage of Knowledge—and rarely have the lyrics of physics been so deftly applied to the laws of music (video 2). The weightless sensation of love reorders a hard-bitten soul in Si Légère (So Light, video 3); and somewhere between Dada and Disney lies the spark of Rumba des Assiettes (Dinner Plate Rumba), a clang-clang charade of China, glassware, cutlery and coupling (video 4). Après L’orage is an enchanting montage of befores and afters, a prescription for the touch of madness that provides immunity against deep despair. And Nour is the voice of storm/creation, an artist who recycles everyday objects, leftovers and shards into songs of wonder. (Smile Records/Schubert Music/PIAS)

 

Vol au vent/Swept Away
(from the French lyrics)
It’s been months since I slept/My strength is in tatters
I’m screwed, I’m bringing up the rear/My little rubber-pants muffin

Your cries like a grinding lawnmower/My nights sans café break or pub crawl
All this finally, just irrelevant detail/My Tweety-bird, my little quail

Me, solid, a bit eccentric, a little pathetic/For me, this isn’t natural
To do things half way/I can say it now, I plainly see
My child, it’s you who are raising me 

I love you love you love you so much
I love you so/I love you so
Love you love you love you so much
That my hard knocks, my hissy fits
Fly to the wind/Fly to the wind
Swept away in the wind

My snuggle bunny, my rascal, little sassafras/My pretzel mop, cutie pie
My quilt with goose feathers/Angelface, babycakes
My darling, my crab cake, my lamb chop with chocolate sauce
Cutie pie, pumpkin pear
My lily flower with propellers, koala bear
I love you, I love you

 

Lumière Bleue/Blue Light
I feel/A red-hot desire in my blood
That burns to the heart/From our incandescent understanding
That takes its momentum/Toward these two covalent atoms
Still searching for each other in the dark/Blinding, fragrant bonds

But I admit that I like you 

This blue light/That irradiates my heart
A heart so unhappy/When it’s far from your warmth
This blue light/Emanating from you
You, who can as easily/Burn me as warm me up

 

Si Légère/So Light
Sometimes, no matter how hard I try/Everything I build up crashes to the ground
But I feel so light with you. 

There are times when keeping my mouth shut/Makes me stronger, more confident than before
But I feel so light with you.

Everything around me bothers me/Keeps me from doing the right thing
And prevents from feeling calm with you

I blow little things out of proportion/It’s rude to make a mountain out of a molehill
If my big feet overreach the mattress/I shouldn’t make it into a federal case

But I feel so light next to you
I feel such peace when I’m with you

While I wait for my failures to float away/For all my poker losses to fade from memory
I can always feel secure next to you, feel so light with you.

 

Rumba des Assiettes/Dinner Plate Rumba
A little rumba of goblets/A foxtrot of cutlery
Stirs in the dining room
Sounds of frenzied glasses/Ring around the table

And under the rain of debris/Short, stunted words
Display their troubles/And are amplified in the arena

The din expresses itself, stretches/Rising the level of Carmen
Close your eyes, my love/Take your head out of the oven

Put your hands on my hips/Scratch me where it itches
Tomorrow all that will happen/Is that we will be in each other’s arms

Let’s allow the plates to move freely/Waltz in the living room
Even if they sway, fall with a boom

Who will pick up the crumbs, the pieces/After the storm subsides?
We always look sillier/With our hands on the broom

Since life begins with a pacifier/May our hearts blow their trumpets
And may the dance of our bodies/Be worthy of the effort
May our voices ring so loud/Reverberating in the corridor
That they weaken the foundations/Of the designer walls in the living room

So let your sparks fly/I’ll lower the decibels
And play the false notes of our concert/With a spoon

Take my hand and ponder/The state of the floor to the ceiling
And the imaginary drawings/That forge our unforgiving weapons

 


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