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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Belinda Carlisle

By Phil Freeman
Published June 11, 2007


The former singer of the Go-Go’s has made an album of classic French chansons and pop tunes from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, including songs made famous by Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg and others. Stop laughing—it’s really good. Supported by a band that includes Brian Eno on keyboards, Fiachna O’Braonain (formerly of Hothouse Flowers) on guitar, and Natacha Atlas on backing vocals, Carlisle truly reinvents these songs. Programmed rhythms work alongside live drumming, and Arabic inflections provide a subtle nod to modern-day France rather than the romantic/nostalgic vision Americans may be expecting. Carlisle’s voice has deepened, and coarsened, over the years; she’s not in Marianne Faithfull territory yet, but there’s a lived-in feel to her vocals that makes the sentiments she’s expressing in songs like “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “La Vie En Rose” and “Sous Le Ciel De Paris” even more universal. No mere kitschy novelty, Voilá is one of the strongest efforts in Carlisle’s catalog, and well worth hearing.