The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


The big French music release of the moment is ‘Comme Si De Rien N’était’ (‘As If Nothing Happened’), the third record by Carla Bruni (below).

Carla BruniHer first release, 2003’s ‘Quelqu’un M’a Dit’ (‘Somebody Told Me’) was a surprise hit in France and beyond, selling two million copies worldwide. Bruni’s husky whisper and delicate ballads won many favourable reviews. For instance, we recall that CLUAS praised it as a “subtle, charming record”. (This is no difficult feat of memory; your present correspondent wrote that review.)

The 2006 follow-up, ‘No Promises’, fared less well. Musical versions of works by some of world literature’s most celebrated poets, including W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickinson, the songs were formulaic rehashes of Bruni’s successful style.

Since then, Bruni has kept a hermit-like low profile, avoiding all publicity and carefully keeping her private affairs out of the media spotlight. We can’t remember hearing her name at all in the last year.

Oh, apart from marrying the President of France.

Bruni (she’s using her own name for her album) insists that most of the tracks on her album were written before she had even met Nicolas Sarkozy. This hasn’t dissuaded the trawl for Sarko-references in her lyrics. For instance: The first single is called ‘L’Amoureuse’! And she’s married! To him! So it’s about him! And so forth.

In truth, there’s nothing on this record that wouldn’t appear on any other romantically-inclined MOR folk-pop album.The cover of the new Carla Bruni album

There’s been a huge media push behind Bruni in recent weeks. Same for every two-bit popstar these days, says you. But Bruni’s husband counts media magnates among his close friends. Mainstream current affairs weeklies like Paris Match, sympathetic to Sarkozy, have featured sympathetic front covers of the first lady and soft-focus photos of her with guitar in lap.

By contrast, left-leaning newspaper Libération called the record “bad” and “inaudible” (in the sense that you can’t listen to it, not that you can’t hear it). But Les Inrockuptibles, the politically-engaged culture magazine that regularly runs anti-Sarko covers, gave the album a qualified thumbs-up and noted its debt to the similar-sounding folk-pop of Françoise Hardy. And while the current President of France never got a mention, there was a reference to one of his predecessors, Georges Pompidou. Of course, that could be an ‘Inrocks’ ploy to whip up feeling among its readers. You see? This record was always going to be overwhelmed by its context.

So, when a convoy of motorcycle policemen pulled up to Chateau French Letter with our review copy in a diplomatic pouch and made us sign the Official Secrets Act, your blogger had to try hard to focus on the music. We made our scrunched-up concentrating face and listened. And… we gave a French shrug. It’s light, airy uncontroversial MOR acoustica à la française. There’s more instrumentation (strings, wind, synths) than on her debut, but other than that Bruni is sticking to her formula.

The album will get a worldwide release with the title ‘Simply’. Until then, you can listen to tracks from it on Carla Bruni’s MySpace page, which she no doubt updates every evening at the Elysées Palace. Here’s the video for ‘L’Amoureuse’:

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.