label: bmg / rca
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
This is the
way to make a proper album, children. Pay attention.
with great songs. If you need to borrow some, make sure they're
the best. That's what French actor/singer Patrick Bruel did here:
all these tunes (except for the final one, which we'll discuss
later) were popular in Paris in the 1930s and 1940s, and capture
that city in all its silky slutty funky splendor. None of them
is less than beautiful, all of them have aged well, and one of
them is even written by Cole Porter. So: great songs, check.
those songs by setting them to beautiful music. The arrangements
on Entre Deux could not possibly be more perfect. They
are largely based on the orchestrations of the time, so we're
hearing lots of saxophones and clarinets and Django-style guitars,
tons of accordions, and merde-loads of pretty strings; but every
track has something that just rubs slightly the wrong way: an
atonal bop piano line here ("Ah! si vous connaissiez ma poule"),
an incongruous drumbeat there ("Vous qui passez sans me voir"),
ambient horn drones ("J'ai le main") and fake trumpet
solos sung through the nose (lots of songs) and all kinds of neat
stuff, just to remind us we're actually living now instead of
in between-the-wars France.
It won't hurt
to have a great singer, so let's discuss Bruel's archetypally
French voice. He's not technically a perfect vocalist, but who
cares? He's got attitude and he hits the notes, and that's all
you need. He rarely overemotes unless he's joking -- most of the
time, he just lays back and insinuates (the opening of "Ramona"
is classic) or croons ("Mon amant de Saint-Jean," "A
Paris, dans chaque faubourg"). Heck, I'm a little in love
with him myself, and I'm not even attracted to guys. Smooth like
And if you're
doing an album of songs that came between the Two World Wars,
and if they're also all about the feelings that pass between Two
Lovers, you might as well find as many other great singers as
you can and do Two-Person Songs, which are otherwise called "duets,"
to go with the "deux" ("us") of the title.
Bruel duets with hipsters like Johnny Hallyday (the "French
Elvis") and Jean-Jacques Goldman, with old-line stars like
Charles Aznavour and Danielle Darrieux, and modern youngsters
like Kahimi Karie, who sounds just as innocent/sexy/modern/old-fashioned
as ever on "Tout le jour, tout la nuit" (a.k.a. "Night
and Day"). This approach never fails, even when he enlists
non-singers like actresses (ahem world's most beautiful) Emanuelle
Beart and (also pretty hot but she's no Beart, who is, really)
Sandrine Kiberlain on the trio/duet "Ou sont tous mes amants."
They sound charming and wonderful together, which is about the
exact opposite way that Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore would
sound on a similar record with
who? What American would do
this album? No one. Bruel is an original.
It is very
telling that Bruel's original composition, "A contretemps,"
sounds like it could have been written 50 or 60 years ago; he
completely nails all the details. From the CDs that look like
old 78s to his portrait in the booklet where he's got his hair
all slicked back and that artificial pose like he's an old classic
movie star singer, Bruel completely absolutely hits every target
at which he aims on Entre Deux. Ooh-la-la, indeed.
05-Dec-2002 4:30 PM
liked Entre Deux...
1. Mon Amant De Saint Jean
3. Ah! Si Vous Connaissiez Ma Poule
4. Paris, je T'aime D'Amour
5. Que Reste T Il De Nos Amours
6. Vous Qui Passez Sans Me Voir
7. Comme de Bien Entendu
8. Ou Sont Tous Mes Amants
9. Je Suis Dans La Deche
10. Quand On S'promene Au Bord De L'eau
11. Le temps Des Cerises
12. Qu'est Ce Qu'on Attend Pour Etre Heureux
13. A Paris Dans Chaque Faubourg
14. La java Bleue
15. La Complainte De La Butte
16. Premier Rendez Vous
17. Tout Le Jour, Toute La Nuit
18. J'ai Ta Main
20. Celui Qui S'en Va
21. On N'a Pas Tous Les Jours Vingt Ans
22. La Romance De Paris
23. Parlez Moi D'Amour
24. A Contretemps