Marianne Dissard: L'entredeux (TEM/Border)

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Marianne Dissard: Merci De Rien Du Tout
Marianne Dissard: L'entredeux (TEM/Border)

Given that this album was produced by Calexico's Joey Burns (who also wrote the music) this one comes as something of a surprise: you might have anticipated some kind of alt.Americana.

There is something of that in the music and arrangements in places, but Dissard vocals (all in French) have that whispered, intimate, beguiling quality of the classic chanson singers. More engaged and engaging than Claudine Longet at her most lightweight but in there with a less husky Marianne Faithfull when she works in this idiom. And Carla Bruni whose earlier albums were better than many would like to give her credit for.

Dissard's lyrics also betray a sometimes strange poetic sensibility when writing about relationships: the lovely Cayenne could as much be about death as departure.

Not everything here is soaked in a sensual langour or sounds like it is being sung under a streetlamp: Les Draps Sourds fairly rocks along in the manner of gypsy bordello song, and Merci De Rien Du Tout has all the restained drama of the Velvet Underground in its drone and repetition.

Burns places Dissard's voice in diverse, subtle and beautifully realised settings, whether they be wide open and spacious or slightly claustrophobic. The other players in the ensemble (which includes a string section, accordion and acoustic guitars alongside discreetly searing electric) are Calexico drummer John Convertino and harmonica player Mickey Raphael.

Crafted, layered, and not easily pigeon-holed. A slow and subtle grower. 

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