Disques Jacques Canetti 1969 / Sommor 2017
Belgian chanteuse’s charming digression into the world of weird.
Back in 1969, this artist wasn’t flying too high. “Quand tu reviendras” – the song she delivered at Eurovision the previous year – landed a tie-in at the seventh position, so Claude couldn’t care less about popularity at that point. Which is possibly why she let her creative hair down on “Chante”: the album whose secret weapon, contrasting the record’s title, is the songs’ arrangements and unexpected vocal flourishes.
These dozen cuts run the gamut from a crazed lullaby of “Sleep Well” to the hectic “L’Usine” with its scat and industrial clang, to the silvery smile of “L’Arbre Et L’Oiseau” and beyond. Starting with a seemingly innocent swirl of “Petit Frère” which has a bit of drama behind orchestral wave and sweet synthesizer ripple, Lombard moves on to quirkier pieces such as “Polychromés” where operatic quiver and Piaf-like edge get dipped into a spaced-out, echoey waltz, and “Midi” where organ and drums stumble, stampede-like, into subaquatic jazz meanderings. A musical saw and bass throb add lysergic bliss to “La Coupe” – but not before the bells of “Les Enfants Perle”peal “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” and “La Camarade” reveals a samba tincture, so there’s hardly a girlish playfulness on offer.
Instead, “Chante” proposes an exit from a yé-yé template it may have hinted at, and is a testament to Claude Lombard’s audacity.