Marc Lavoine has switched over to summer time with his ninth and latest release L’heure d’été. Once again with his natural elegance and deep, sensual voice, Lavoine steps into the romantic role. And why not? It suits him so well! Four years after the success of his self-titled album (700,000 copies sold), this singer who once appealed mainly to the teenyboppers is now regarded as a serious performer of French chanson, with his sensitive lyrics, excellent musicianship and mellifluous voice.
With an innovative style and new musical horizons to explore, the man who once sang C’est ça la France now performs to a different rhythm. His latest work could be described as part classy variété, part auteur pop. Using both techno beats and acoustic instrumentation, Lavoine has made an electropop that is energetic but with a light touch. His latest album is rather like a romantic comedy, using retro and electronic sounds as well as nervy guitars, and recorded in the legendary Abbey Road studios. Here he sings of his love for his wife or memories of childhood and times gone by, using tender and poetic lyrics. Singing his sweet Mélancolie, Lavoine displays an innate sense of phrasing, his deep voice striking exactly the right tone: "You've followed me for a long time / Teenager for life / A record-eater, Patti Smith / 10 cc, Brian Ferry / The lily of the valley, the Party / The suburbs, the spaghetti". On this track he accumulates references to the seventies, his favourite period, which for him are full of sad sentiment and happy times forever gone: his father the militant communist, the May Day festival, football and parties with beautiful girls. With its retro rhythm boxes and acid synth sounds, Heure d’été recalls the seventies and eighties, Lavoine's two main sources of musical inspiration. "The songs are a little retro, a bit like Neil Young, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, or perhaps like the album Gainsbourg recorded in 1973 (…) Then the rest of the album is more techno: I wanted it to musically reference the eighties, and bands Taxi Girl, OMD, Depeche Mode or New Order", Lavoine told La Libre Belgique (24/05/05). Daniel Darc also composed Ne m’en veux pas de t’en vouloir for him, with music by Frédéric Lo.
After duets with the likes of Catherine Ringer, Christina Marocco and Claire Keim, where he played the role of the sensitive gentleman, Marc Lavoine teams up this team with the young Vietnamese singer Quynh Anh for J’espère, a duet that is a little like a romantic road movie. Because the key theme on L'heure d'été is love. Ever the charmer, the singer celebrates summer declarations of love, the beautiful girls who pass you by in the night, the shy first glances … but he also evokes the end of affairs, and the love which makes us suffer or which we never find. For this romantic melancholic visited by sombre thoughts of death, only the love songs matter in the end. Which is why he dedicated one of the tracks, J’ai oublié de te dire, to his wife. It's a song about the little words we use every day and which can seem ridiculous. "I wanted to say it to the woman I love, because I'm not a great talker. Or rather I use a lot of words without ever saying much. I think a woman can suffer from that," he explained to journalists at a press conference in Brussels in May. It's an avowal that is very touching.
With the same poetic verve, he pays homage to Alain Souchon in On est passé à l’heure d’été. "In the middle of the romantic crowd of people," Lavoine becomes the nostalgic spectator of "candy floss sweet kisses / A straw for two / Lovers / Pepsi stuck." On the electronic Vogue le magazine, he adopts a lighter tone, citing trendy fashion designers and brands. For Lavoine, the music is also a collage, a playful recitation of names and references to create an effect: "It's not for Calvin, it's not for Kline /(…) It's not for Slimane, or for Chanel / (…) It's for the girl inside… ". It's a Warhol-esque use of logos, but in a Lavoine style – witty and ingenious, in other words. Always out to surprise, in Je me sens si seul, he sings against electronic beats of his depressive moments, of loneliness in today's society, of ecstasy, antidepressants, and a society that for him is not ready to lead us anywhere. He is both provocative and political, and yet always with elegant discretion. Marc Lavoine's seductive style is truly inimitable.
Marc Lavoine L'heure d'été (Mercury/Universal) 2005
Artist: Marc Lavoine
Title of Album: L`Heure D`Ete
Year of Release: 2005
Genre: French Pop
Bitrate/Quality: 320 kb/s