Fredda: L'ancolie
Le Pop Musik

The fourth album by French chanteuse Fredda (Fréderique Dastrevigne) receives a valuable boost from the electric guitar presence of Mocke Dépret (of the Parisian band Holden). In its absence, her album would be a perfectly satisfying collection of French vocal-pop songs; with Dépret's playing factored in, the music feels more raw, bluesy even, and the harder edge gives L'Ancolie some much-needed kick. A good example is “Constant” where the guitar's shudder seems to gnaw constantly at the song's loose folk-blues arrangement.

Fredda's cosmopolitan soundworld is established immediately when “Morin Heights” underlays her sultry French vocals with an acoustic combo's relaxed backdrop, but it's in the subsequent songs, “Journal intime” and “Il ne me reste,” that Dépret's twang starts to assert itself. In simplest terms, the album features a dozen three-minute vignettes of French life that augment Dastrevigne's smooth delivery with banjo, upright bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, and, of course, electric guitar. The songs themselves range from lilting ballads (“Rugir Noël”) and blues-folk (“Constant”) to waltzes (“Vatanen”) and timeless chanson (“Fenêtre à Collioure”); a pop dimension is never too far out of the picture either, as a song like “Fleur d'ennui” makes clear. Even if one isn't fluent in French, a wistful reverie such as “L'ancolie” (composed by Bastien Lallemant) will make even the most resistant traveler pine for the splendour of French countrysides and the romance of Parisian night-life.

May 2013