It is certainly an interesting concept, and there’s a clutch of gems to be discovered (along with a couple of clunkers!) but you can’t fault these Aussie musos for trying on the French.
While at first, you might search for a deeper motivation behind this new compilation of French songs reinterpreted by Australian artists, there’s no need. It’s pretty much laid out on the tin: “Australian artists singing in French,” with an implied subtitle, “to varying degrees of success”.
Dappled Cities’ take on Air’s ‘Sexy Boy’ is fun, if not earth-shatteringly original. Distinctive vocal tones prove they transcend language though – Kate Miller-Heidke brings her operatic stylings to Françoise Hardy’s ‘Il N’y A Pass D’Amour Heureux’, while Lisa Mitchell strains through a husky ‘Bang Bang’, and even if it wasn’t quite in keeping with the theme, it would have been fun to hear her go full Cher.
Lead single ‘La Minute De Silence’ with Gossling and Oh Mercy is languid and très continental. The hauntingly jazzy interpretation of ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’ showcases Katie Noonan’s crystalline voice to stunning effect, and Jinja Safari team up with performer Okenyo for a theatrical, sultry take on ‘Le Temps de L’Amour’.
Man of the moment Vance Joy covers ‘La Mer’ to great success, spinning the classic into a sweetly strummed love song, all honeyed harmonies and tropical overtones in one of the compilation’s highlights. Big Scary offer a delicate, breathy version of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus’ and Thelma Plum’s fragile, quivering rendition of ‘La Vie En Rose’ is dusted with a spine-tingling, tragic beauty. Edward Deer’s version of ‘Belles! Belles! Belles!’ is catchy and endearing. The psychedelic ‘Mini Mini Mini’ features the only legitimate French singer, Soko, alongside Aussie rockers The Walking Who.
BY NATALIE AMAT
Melodie Francaise is out now through Original Matters/Inertia.