Mystery Music March

Carla Bruni’s quelqu'un m'a dit

I don’t often follow the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It takes for a celebrity to do something prominent enough that it appears in the 'proper' news that I’ll take notice and so generally if someone says something like ‘Isn’t it a pity about what happened to Kate Winslet?’ I’ll have little to no clue what they’re talking about.

I generally couldn’t care less about their private life so long as, like the person who sells me the newspaper, they’re doing their job properly, which in the case of most celebrities and artists is to entertain or make you think. There are exceptions to this of course – I await the next line-up change in the Sugababes with great interest and I’ll hang on Mark Kermode’s every word.

Which is why, when three months ago, whilst my brain was going through its early morning processes of gaining awareness and I heard Carla Bruni's name in a report about the French prime minister I shot awake and literally jumped out of bed. Carla Bruni to me was the singer-songwriter of the album quelqu'un m'a dit bought for a couple of pound in Vinyl Exchange Manchester in May 2004 and massaging my ears ever since. She was not someone who was mentioned in the headlines on BBC News.

I wrote on this very blog at the time: “If ever I go mad and I'm hearing voices can hers be the only one I hear.” All Carla Bruni was to me, was a singer whose cd inlay I had framed on my wall and who in April 2007, again on this blog I noted was finally releasing a second album five years later. I had no idea what she’d been doing in the intervening years and the only time I’d spoken about her to anyone else was with Caro via email in 2005. Like many of the artists on this list, she was my secret, her silky tonal lullaby my treat on the bus to work in the morning.

Now she’s very much in the public eye having married the French Prime Minister, the newspapers have filled, during the three months (or longer) of their courtship, with mini-biographies of this woman, this ‘model-turned-singer’ and the many boyfriends and dalliances she’s had in the five years that she’s not been recording music. I don’t want to know that she’s an heiress that she’s been linked with everyone from Eric Clapton to Donald Trump and that she’s allegedly ended marriages, one of the songs on this very album, ‘Raphaël’ being about that very affair.

Given everything you now know about Bruni, would you expect quelqu'un m'a dit to be a folk record? Because that’s exactly what it is with hints of country in there too. The best track is probably Le toi du moi, which plays out the beats of A Fine Romance (‘my friend this is’) over a wider emotional pallet. And unlike, for example, French rap music, language isn’t too much of a barrier because you’re carried along by the textures and importantly it’s not over produced – the only sounds you can hear are guitars and that voice, so authentically French even though she was born in Italy.

I don’t know what the rules are about the wives of premiere’s releasing pop records but I suspect it’ll be another five years before Bruni releases another album which on the basis of this might well be a lyrical expose of what it’s like to be in office. But you see I wouldn’t be thinking that if I didn’t know where this voice was coming from, so mysterious for so long. There’s no doubt that in most cases your knowledge of an artist can inform your appreciation of their music (Amy Winehouse etc.) but in this case I wish Carla was still to me just a beautiful voice from who knew where.

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