Well, what have we here? Nico lives!? Marianne Faithfull got her voice back!? Leonard Cohen underwent a sex-change operation!? No, it?s a reissue of the seven-year-old debut album from 33-year-old Parisienne, Christelle Delaney, and it?s a dreamy, low-key affair that?s perfect for hiding in your room on a gloomy day, whiling away an hour in the company of a sultry, sexy, yet brooding and occasionally aloof, multi-lingual performer, who seemlessly mixes French and English vocals across these dozen moody, rainy day dreamaways.
The sleepy, monotone vocals on opener, ?A Toute Alert? with simple acoustic guitar and sci-fi, theremin-ish synth backing sets the tone for the mysterious musical adventure that lies ahead. A full band accompaniment gives ?Sur La Place Lili Boulanger? a more accessible sound, comparable to Francoise Hardy?s rockier efforts. Delaney sings ?Hard Work Never Pays? in an unaccented English that carries a swaying, folky, Leonard Cohenesque vibe and initially recalls Nico and Faithfull, but the more astute musicoligist in the audience may also hear vestiges of Pink Military/Industry?s Jayne Casey lurking about in the wings.
The shuffling ?A Quoi Bon?? has a marvelous melody that non-French-speaking listeners will find themselves humming endlessly, even if they have no inkling as to what the song is about. Delaney?s intimate self-accompaniment on guitar and bubbly synth adds a heartwarming innocense and romantic charm to ?Mes Sourires Par Int?rim? and her lone synth backing and deep, almost Teutonic vocals make it impossible not to draw obvious Nico comparisons on the short, melodramatic ?Il Ne Faut Pas D?Usage Se Servir Des Sauvages? ? not that there?s anything wrong with that.
The rocksteady synth beat to ?Une Musique Tragique? adds an 80?s pop sheen to the album, with an aggressive Suicide tendency that enforces the Pink Military references and also reminded me of French pop-punk cult faves, Kas Product (whose albums have been reissued and reviewed elsewhere in these pages). From leather-jacketed biker bitch (think Marianne Faithfull in ?Girl On A Motorcycle?) to heartwarming, girl-next-store-that-you-wanna-spend-the-rest-of-your-life- with cuddly doll, Delaney switches gears on ?A Salamanque,? which finds her in a passive, romantic mood, much like a female Leonard Cohen, a comparison meant as the utmost compliment.
With simple, easy-on-the-ears melodies supporting sexy, soft-spoken, yet occasionally aggressive vocals, Delaney is someone you?ll want to spend a lot of time alone with to devour her intimate, emotional longings?to wrap yourself in her dirty laundry and protect her from harmful, outside elements. Even if you don?t know what she?s singing about, the tales are presented with such a dramatic, emotional conviction, you can almost translate them into your own personal experiences. So check your xenophobic inhibitions at the door and immediately go out and pick up one of the year?s finest releases. As the French say, ?C?est magnifique!? 9/10 -- Jeff Penczak (17 October, 2005)