I got the new Jane Birkin, Rendez-Vous, last week. She went all dancing barefoot with Arabesque and appears to be on this whole earthmother kick now. I don’t particularly care for it. Her kids must be cringing. The Guardian gave it a good review - and I’m a longtime fan - but maybe I’m just not in the right mood for it. The concept of the album – duets with Caetano Veloso, Beth Gibbons, Brian Ferry, Brian Molko from Placebo, Paolo Conte, her colleague Francoise Hardy, and others – is promising but the affair turns into a muddle of over produced and thoroughly middle-aged Euro Pomp. It’s like a godawful new age Sunday night variety show. Dreadfully insipid lyrics. Actually on many of the duets Birkin appears to be merely chiming in.
Jane B.’s voice has always been more than a bit sharp and strained. As Arabesque revealed, her vocals shine when employed as a sort of exotic instrument. The jaunty opening duet with Mickey (3D), “Je M’Appelle Jane,” works because collaborator Mickey(3D) understands this. And although Birkin should be admired from stepping out of the shadow and moving on with new material, she has always been at her best performing the songs that Gainsbourg wrote for her.
Rendez Vous is all over the place, and the guest vocals seem to be literally phoned in. Heavy, dated synths feed the argument that the French can’t rock. Birkin should take her cue from recent efforts from her contemporaries Anna Karina and Valerie Legrange, who collaborated with Katerine and Benjamin Biolay, respectively. She could really benefit from working with a young producer/arranger/writer with the vision, sensitivity, and skill to put together a solid, focused product worthy of her legacy. I personally feel Biolay would be a stunning match – god knows there’s tons of great talent in France right now – Air, Mellow, Phoenix(when is the new one being released in the US?!!!), Bertrand Burgalet…
Oh, I dunno why I’m being so harsh… its not that bad. Above average adult French shit. At any rate, I’m definately seeing Jane Birkin when she comes to Lisner in the fall.
Right now a bit out of sorts. The Cambodian Chief - whom we all adore and respect and whose retirement party I was planning even though he doesn't totally doesn't want to retire but the government is forcing him to - just called. I was in the middle of proofing the invites for printing. His son just passed away. 34 years old. It was sudden. I went to grade school briefly with his kids (the two were way ahead of me so we didn't really play together). Saddened.