Florent Nouvel: Le Nouvel Album

Florent Nouvel has a child’s sense of wonder and a director’s flair for composition. He simultaneously reveals and fabricates—his Facebook bio describes him as “le plus grand chanteur” of France (6 feet, 6 inches, or 1.99m)—and in fabricating illustrates larger truths with fine details. He writes catchy French chanson melodies, with deft touches of swing, bossa nova or jitterbug rock, that animate … More Florent Nouvel: Le Nouvel Album

Eskelina: La verticale

There’s a vein of Pygmalion to Eskelina Svanstein’s career in French chanson—just substitute divergent nationalities for social classes and assign more harmony to the goal of student and teachers. The story opens with a Swedish girl singing on the street in a French town. She hands a demo of her music to a renowned composer (Christophe Bastien); he eventually calls, and enlists a lyricist (Florent Vintrigner); the three rendezvous, composer and poet begin sculpting … More Eskelina: La verticale

Idir: Ici et Ailleurs

How many goals can one album achieve? Idir, the soft but steadfast voice of Berber/Kabyle culture, may not have posed that question when he conceived Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere), but a partial list would include putting his native language—which has long struggled for official status in Algeria—on a bigger stage; expressing his love for the French soundtrack of his 40-year exile; and, not least, adding a new chapter to Charles Aznavour’s storied career … More Idir: Ici et Ailleurs

Sophie Tapie: Sauvage

When Sophie Tapie appeared on The Voice/France she wanted to perform songs by Johnny Cash but bowed to warnings of how French viewers might vote; she did Bruno Mars and Johnny Hallyday instead. Lesson learned, when the time came to record her first album she ditched Paris for the place where French and country go together as comfortably as tailgates and moonlight—Québec. The result of that journey is Sauvage (Wild), one of … More Sophie Tapie: Sauvage

Fréro Delavega: Des ombres et des lumières

The second album by Jérémy Frérot and Florian Delavega explores and floats between innocence and experience, dream and reality, yesterday and today—and, as the title indicates, shadow and light. Just a year after their best-selling debut album, the new title also suggests the potential for the singer-songwriter duo to outshine themselves—or be overshadowed by early success. On that score, their close harmonies, meditative lyrics, acoustic arrangements and collaborations … More Fréro Delavega: Des ombres et des lumières

Francis Cabrel: In Extremis

Throughout his 40-year career, Francis Cabrel—the greatest French singer-songwriter of his generation—has woven strands of folk, blues, jazz, rock and pop into iconic songs of relationships, protest and social commentary. On his 13th studio album, he is in fine form, casting a mature artist’s eye on romantic and paternal love, politics, heroism, xenophobia, war and faith—in short, on life. Dur comme fer (Hard as Iron), lampoons politicians … More Francis Cabrel: In Extremis