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World Music CD Reviews Europe

ALAIN BASHUNG

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published April 14, 2006

L’Imprudence
Universal France

The fact that Alain Bashung is one of France’s most popular singers doesn’t make it any less surprising that L’Imprudence quickly rose to top the charts. It’s a dark collection of (what could be called) art/pop songs, with arrangements bordering on avant-garde; it’s almost as if Scott Walker returned to America to become the latest sensation. Even “Faites Monter,” Bashung’s latest single, features no traits of what passes for hits in the English-speaking world. Impressive production and musical work come via Elvis Costello’s pianist Steve Nieve, bassist Simon Edwards (of Talk Talk), and guitarists Arto Lindsay and Marc Ribot. Bashung chimes in to play an eerie harmonica as well. In line with inventive and layered arrangements, lyrics are mysteriously cryptic—it’s highly likely only Bashung himself knows what these songs are about. Although unlikely to interest those insisting on accessible songs, L’Imprudence offers the unconventional French song gracefully.