Album review

Jane Birkin - Arabesque

Gallic icons rarely let you down, being so impeccably steeped in their own mythology and conscious of their dignity. Like the music world's answer to Catherine Deneuve, honorary French muse-turned-chanteuse Birkin continues to take artistic risks without capsizing.

Here reinterpreting the songbook of former husband Serge Gainsbourg (and not the obvious pages) with Arab gypsy shadings and Algerian violinists, she reaffirms that she understands Serge's depressive yet Dionysian urges, never lapsing into parody. "Elisa" and "Comment Te Dire Adieu" are mordantly bittersweet. Tasteful and tense.

Rating: 4 / 10


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Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs...