For many, singing in their native tongue is difficult enough. That makes Mélodie Française, the upcoming compilation album released by artist management company Original Matters (via Inertia), all the more impressive. The record comprises 14 timeless tunes re-interpreted and recorded by a variety of independent Australian artists, sung entirely in the original French.
Francophiles all around Australia – perhaps still suffering withdrawal symptoms post-Tour de France – are sure to love this innovative project, which will not only satisfy our own desire for something a little bit je ne sais quoi, but also give local acts an opportunity to develop a reputation overseas, with an international release in the works.
Featuring artists such as Katie Noonan, Deep Sea Arcade, Megan Washington, Kate Miller-Heidke, Oh Mercy, Jinja Safari and Dappled Cities, this is certainly no lightweight line-up, with some of the Australian music scene’s finest taking part. However, tackling music from a list of names like Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, Françoise Hardy and Claude François means that there are certainly some big berets to fill. The performers involved all spent time with French tutors working on diction and pronunciation before hitting the studio.
Despite the pressure that comes with covering any song that’s regarded as an untouchable classic, there are plenty of inspired moments on Mélodie Française. Edith Piaf’s Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves) is given the proper respect by Katie Noonan, while Big Scary deliver their take on perhaps the granddaddy of all French tunes – Je t’aime … moi non plus – and Dappled Cities are given the opportunity to pay homage to their electronic forebears, Air, on Sexy Boy. Lisa Mitchell interprets Bang Bang – perhaps more familiar to most audiences when sung by Nancy Sinatra or Cher, but given a more dramatic treatment in France by Sheila – and Australia’s own little sparrow, 18-year-old Thelma Plum, gives a hair-raising version of Piaf’s immortal La Vie en rose.
If the reaction to the latest single from the album – Deep Sea Arcade and Megan Washington teaming up for a haunting performance of Bonnie and Clyde by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot – is anything to go by, our airwaves could be getting a healthy injection of liberté, égalité, fraternité before too long.