Ladies and gentlemen, The Wonderful World of Carminelitta is back (again)! I know, I know… I guess there’s no denying the obvious: life has been hectic and my mind elsewhere in the past months, and despite a vague desire to update the blog more regularly and start sharing some music with you again, I was simply not in a space where I felt motivated and inspired enough to do it. After a few attempts which proved to be short-lived, I’m giving it a new try. Many posts are waiting in line, but for tonight, I thought some smooth French soul would be appropriate.
I told you about Aldrick on two occasions, first for his collaboration with French spoken word artist JLS on the album DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT, and second with his acapella EP Dans Ma Chambre. As I already explained then, Aldrick is part of the numerous artists I discovered on MySpace in what seems to be another digital lifetime and I’ve always appreciated his voice, his style and sense of humour. After giving us those very appetising teasers, the French singer finally delivered a long-awaited debut album back in May. While I tend to listen mainly to American artists, as well as a few from the UK, I have to admit I have overlooked artists from my own country for the most part of the last years. When I discover albums like Histoire de…, I am reminded of how much talent France has nurtured and I am therefore tempted to go back to listening to more “homegrown” music. Aldrick is clearly among my favourites and the album is yet another confirmation of his skills.
An eclectic collection of songs that range from dancefloor-friendly, feel-good music (Bouge) to stripped down vocal prowesses (Tous les garçons et les filles) or straight emotional soul (Come back, Je t’aime) and sensual invitations (Bodytalk), among others, Histoire de… constitutes a very comprehensive introduction to Aldrick’s universe. As the cover artwork illustrates, the singer offers us different sides of his personality and moods, appealing to different people or matching various moments in the day or life. As a whole, the album is extremely satisfying and calls for repeated listens, both for the incredible smoothness of Aldrick’s voice and the well-written, heartfelt lyrics. Listening to it now, I am drawn mostly to the most intimate songs, especially the aforementioned Come back and Je t’aime, as well as Rester gravé, but I know that at other times I can be attracted to the blunt but borderline funny Franchement tu m’énerves, which was one of the first songs I ever heard from him, or even the beautiful ode to his mother that is Y en a qu’une.
As usual when talking about French artists to an audience that is mostly from the States, I will have to say that while understanding the words is quite important, you can still appreciate the beautiful music and atmosphere created by the various songs. Highly influenced by soul, Histoire de… is also sprinkled with different other elements, making it a musical melting-pot and testimony to Aldrick’s own complexity and varied inspirations.
All that is left to say now is, do yourself a favour and treat your ears to some high quality French soul. You won’t be disappointed.
You can grab Histoire de… on (among others). Once you placed your order, enjoy the official video for the first single, Franchement tu m’énerves. The visuals really respect the lyrics and spirit of the song, which should make it easy for you to understand what’s going on. Enjoy and spread the word!
What is great about inspiration is that once you found it again, you seem to be more open, more receptive to the world around you and you feel the need to express yourself and share your thoughts and emotions. This is what is happening to my right now and I have to say it feels quite good after a rather long period of doubt and clouded creativity. Enough of my private life though, all I wanted to say is that after my two recent posts, I still have a lot to share and I feel blessed for that.
When I said you feel more open I really meant it. I really experience a different kind of awareness, as if my senses were more powerful and my mind more reactive to those feelings I have inside. And I am also connecting to French artists more, which is long overdue. I guess you are all happy to read at least one word that seems to relate to the subject at hand, after this very personal and slightly puzzling introduction. Yes! French music, at last.
Aldrick is one of the numerous artists I discovered “back in the days” on MySpace (I sometimes wonder if this period really existed or if I dreamt it, I discovered SO many artists at this time!). I told you about him briefly in my mini-review of JLS Musique’s DES MOTS [dé]NOTENTwhen I presented the single he worked on, the beautiful Ce soir. After being mesmerised by Aldrick’s voice many years ago, I have to admit quite shamefully that I didn’t really follow him as I deserted MySpace. But I was meant to re-connect at some point and this time has now arrived. Aldrick is not only a very talented man with an extraordinary voice, he also takes a very original and innovative approach to music, refusing to be put in any box and exploring different genres. This is quite obvious with his latest project, a beautiful EP entitled Dans ma chambre (“in my bedroom”), where he covers French music classics, but with a twist. I have to admit I haven’t been listening to a lot of French music as a child, even though I know all but one track of the EP. I know I have been missing out, as there are some very skilled songwriters in my beautiful country. I mention the lyrics because they play a very important part here. What makes this project so interesting and touching is the fact that Aldrick and his guests sing all the songs acapella. This not only gives me goose-bumps (I am a great fan of acapella) because of the intensity of the emotions carried by the voices, but also allows me to focus on the lyrics and (re)discover them. I am on the verge of tears when listening to some of the songs (especially their rendition of Francis Cabrel’s La corrida which takes a whole new dimension for me and is highly emotional), I feel transported to another world, where I don’t think with my brain anymore, but with my heart. Words can really touch you and I have to salute this initiative by Aldrick to give those beautiful songs an opportunity to shine again. What is also quite amazing is that even though some of the songs were written a while ago (Tous les garçons et les filles was first sung by Françoise Hardy in the 60s), the lyrics are still very powerful and meaningful. If you don’t understand French you will of course not be able to get all the subtleties of this EP, but the voices of Aldrick and his friends should be able to touch you (and make you want to learn the language).
This EP is available on Aldrick’s website as a free download and it is a must have. Listen, indulge and spread the word.
Now, to give you an idea of what this is all about, discover the official video for Tous les garçons et les filles, where Aldrick laments about being lonely while happy couples are all around. It was written by a young woman in the 60′s, but is it obviously very easy for anyone to relate to this feeling. Enjoy!
First of all, I need to state two obvious things before starting. Number one: I am clearly not talking about a British boy’s band here and it is just a simple coincidence that a great French spoken word artist may share his name with them. If you are a fan of theirs, well… you can still check this out and hopefully you will take an opportunity here to open your mind and ears (I tried not to be too judgemental, forgive me if some opinions inadvertly creeped in…). Number two: I apologise to you non French-speaking people (I am well aware you are an overwhelming majority) because you will definitely miss out on a lot if you don’t understand the lyrics. But as I stated several times before, music is universal and you should be able to feel what JLS put into this album even if you don’t get the exact meaning of his lyrics. With that said, DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT has been highly anticipated on my side and I have to say it did live to my expectations, even if I would have loved a longer album. Let me tell you more about JLS and his debut…
I first heard of JLS many years ago on MySpace and was immediately enchanted by his universe. I was discovering French spoken word at the time and I really loved the way he played with words and ideas, how he was very open with his thoughts and emotions, allowing listeners into his very interesting universe. I was going to his page regularly to listen to his music and some of the tracks I loved so much I played them on repeat. Fast forward to more recent times, when Facebook allowed me to re-discover him and get in touch. A few months ago, JLS finally released his debut full-length, entitled DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT. This contains a very nice wordplay and basically introduces one of the concepts of the album, which offers a very interesting balance between words (‘mots’) and notes. I greatly appreciate this aspect of the project and I think it makes it easier for non French-speaking people to get into it and feel its vibe. As he states in the beautiful introduction, JLS’ music is a mixture of different genres and doesn’t fit in any traditional box. It is indeed filled with many influences, from jazz, soul and reggae to hip-hop and spoken word. It’s simply feel-good, conscious, emotional music. I want to quote what may be his slogan, ‘La musique se vit mais ne se joue pas’, which means ‘Music is lived, not played’.
Straight from the first notes of the introduction, you are travelling to another world, you can imagine yourself sitting in an underground jazz club in the States many decades ago and indulge in the sheer beauty of the piano and horns. More jazzy and cinematic elements can be found in Ce soir, a wonderful duet with Aldrick, a very talented singer (whom I also discovered on MySpace back in the days). There is also a melancholic and introspective aspect in this track, where JLS reminisces over his childhood and his past. We then travel further into his universe, through words and music, with reggae-influenced God Bless (featuring Droïd D. Boop). This one really exudes positive energy and is a call for more communication and understanding between people. JLS is realistic but still hopeful, wishing for a better world. It is then time for more hip-hop with a duet with Hadi Barzon. On Ma poésie sur écoute, the artists are showcasing amazing writing-skills and wordplay ability. They are dealing with freedom of speech and how it can be threatened in today’s society. The beautiful piano and flute give the lyrics more depth and are emotionally strong. JLS is also drawing a sad but real image of a world where media manipulation is in full effect and where words are losing some of their power through a decreasing of interest in art and culture. To make their beauty more obvious, JLS shares a wonderful spoken word piece entitled Je veux être. Here, he mixes emotion and technicality, proving that such a blend is indeed possible and his flow makes his lyrics even more powerful. He states ‘Je veux être une fenêtre ouverte sur le monde’ (‘I want to be a open window on the world’). Plume du ghetto has a very nice and energetic jazzy vibe and is a recounting of his path from the ghetto to the world of writing, how he used his ‘feather’ to get out of the ghetto but definitely not to turn a page on it. He is underlining once again how effective words can be over a wonderful piano and horns. The interlude is simply incredible. It is then time for a complete change of mood with the ironic and funny Jimmy le millionnaire which describes how some young people want to be reality TV ‘heroes’ and would do anything for a bit of fame. Finally, it’s all about the music with Des notes which uses the same beautiful soundtrack as the intro and leaves you with a smile on your face.
After words and music, it’s now time to add some visuals… Here is the official video for Ce soir, first single off DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT. Enjoy!
Find out more about JLS Musique and his musicians on his website and head to the shop to purchase the album