Jazz meets rock in an unexpected blend
Carla Bruni has quite the resume. The French pop star was one of the highest-paid models of the ‘90s, was the former first lady of France and named 35th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2010. For her first album in English, Bruni brings the French Touch to a confusing blend of covers.
The album begins with the Depeche Mode hit, “Enjoy The Silence.” Bruni’s smokey vibrato sounds on the cusp of breaking at any moment but not in an emotionally exhaustive way; its unfortunate cause is merely poor breath support. The ballad drags and begs for the original pacing. Bruni slightly picks up the pace for a rendition of The Clash’s “Jimmy Jazz.” This is an album highlight, if only for the fact that it doesn’t sound ridiculous as a Chicago style jazz cover.
Another noteworthy track is a nod to Bruni’s ex, Mick Jagger. Bruni is a temptress with her husky, restrained vocals layered over simple bongo drums on the Rolling Stones’ original “Miss You.” The jazz cover the world never needed is Bruni’s rendition of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell.” There’s nothing explicitly wrong with the song, it’s truly a solid effort of jazz composition, the familiar melody simply doesn’t fit into the jazz territory.
The album’s sequence is possibly its biggest pitfall. After “Highway To Hell,” Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” follows and then three standards in a row close the album. “Stand By Your Man” is no more enhanced by Bruni than its rock counterparts, but “Please Don’t Kiss Me” is made sultry by her thick alto. The album ends on a Breakfast At Tiffany’s classic, “Moon River.” Bruni matches Audrey Hepburn’s subtlety for a soothing close.
As a collection, French Touch is a head-scratcher. However, the well-conceived successes are sure to fill cafe speakers — for those who are listening.