referred to simply as La Chanson Française. In the
40s, 50's and 60's, legendary singers such as George Brassens,
Yves Montand, Édith Piaf, and Charles Aznavour made this music
famous. In the ensuing decades, artists such as Serge Gainsbourg
and Georges Moustaki took up the heavy mantle of their
predecessors, and were themselves followed most recently by the
inevitable Nouvelle Chanson Française - singers such
as Stéphane Sanseverino and Vincent Delerm.
sing of eternal themes: love and betrayal, hope and deception,
freedom and oppression. But it's their unique mixture of
attention to language, raw emotional delivery, and almost
nostalgic regard for the difficulties of life that sets them
apart. They are ballad singers, poets of song whose goal is
to set music to words as much as the other way around. They
sing a cappella or accompanied by a simple guitar, usually
alone on stage or in intimate cafés or larger arenas such as l'Olympia.
Attending a concert is a quasi-religious experience, a communion
between artist and audience.
latest star to enter the firmament of La Chanson Française
is Jeanne Cherhal, a thirty year-old wisp of a girl with feline
features who sings playful ballads replete with poetic
phrasings. While she traces her artistic influences to
singers such as Brigitte Fontaine and Barbara Streisand, her thin
tomboyish figure recalls Françoise Hardy, her frank delivery
Édith Piaf, and her piercing lyrics, Patti Smith. Cherhal
released her most fascinating album L'Eau in
2006. Her style as she delivers these complex, playful and
sometimes haunting songs is simple and direct, as fluid as the
water she sings about so enchantingly on the title track.
Cherhal celebrates the quirky and the romantic, the frivolous and
songs reveal new layers at each listening, uncovering new
subtleties. Vive la chanson française! .