Francoiz Breut – A l’aveuglette

December 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue, #318, December 2008.

À l’aveuglette
Françoiz Breut
(Remote Control/Inertia)
****

French chanteuse Françoiz Breut is something of anomaly. Often compared to Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen, her sultry, blues-flecked take on melancholia seems at its best when its borders are breached, its edges torn and frayed.

Even without the benefit of her lyrics – sung entirely in her native tongue – the title of fourth album À l’aveuglette (At Random in English) says much about her palette. Across 14 mood-clouded vignettes, Breut dips her toes in any number of musical vernaculars without ever fully submerging herself. The wiry country twang of ‘Terre D’Ombre’ finds itself buried in a shadowy haze; the rollicking melody, percussive rattles and flourishing horns of ‘Les Jeunes Pousses’ bleed into the kind of spacious vibraphone phrases more at home in Chicago post-rock or jazz.

The one constant is the darkened atmosphere, and the joy is its malleable guise. The narcotic, smoke-hazed ‘Dunkerque’ pulses with sinister undertones before opening like a like a rose, while the gently wrangling guitar overture of ‘L’Etincell Ou La Contrainte’ finds itself wrapped in a swooping vocal harmony by its first chorus.

Françoiz Breut is a master of her strange craft. À l’aveuglette’s inflections may be ephemeral, but their effects are enthralling.

Dan Rule

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