Carla Bruni’s Quelqu’un M’a Dit walked all over Europe and the UK in 2004, making the former supermodel a singing sensation among music geeks and casual listeners alike. With the album’s American debut, it’s easy to hear why. Bruni’s songs brush easily along in conversational French, and the acoustic guitars usually require only the slightest percussion accompaniment. Rather than mine ’60s French pop revisionism like young moderns falling in love with ye-ye girls, Bruni trusts her singer-songwriter sensibilities. She nods to gentle folk-pop, channels a French Rickie Lee Jones (“J’en Connais”), and lets the understated lead guitar keep things vibrant. In short, she never overdoes it. The title track’s melody is irresistible — naive and cleverly simplistic all at once — and the wistful descent of “Noyée” suggests the Beatles’ (original) “Across the Universe.” Woodblocks and piano give “Le Toi du Moi” a polite sashay, and “Le Plus Beau du Quartier” fits comfortably on a mixtape next to one of the Velvets’ “girl” songs. (“Stephanie Says,” for example.) “Quartier” also features the album’s fullest arrangement, adding twangy electric guitar, woozy strings and throaty laughter to Bruni’s vocal for just a little of that randy late-night atmosphere French music does so well.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].