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Mrs. Sarkozy's A Mean Songstress

April 10, 2008

I didn't pay much attention to the broohaha surrounding the climaxing relationship between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-supermodel / singer-songwriter Carla Bruni even though I was in the UK when France's first couple swung by for an official visit in March. The controversy on the eve of the visit concerning the publication by Christies auction house of a nude photograph of Bruni taken during her career as a supermodel and the media's special interest in Bruni's wardrobe (Christian Dior -- a diplomatic choice, being a French design house designed by John Galliano, a British designer) seemed laughable to me.

But having been introduced to Bruni's music by -- of all people -- my mother, who's a fan and played several of the singer-songwriter's tracks for me while I was home visiting, I've now become completely obsessed with the Italian-born bombshell-maestro.

Bruni's debut CD from 2002, Quelqu'un m'a dit, is one of the loveliest collections of musical musings I've heard in a long time. In many ways, Bruni follows directly in the footsteps of French singer-songwriters that have passed before her, including Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel in the sense that what she puts out into the world is deceptively simple: almost comical little tunes accompanied by little else than a strummed guitar.

But the surface texture of Bruni's songs belies an inner depth and complexity. It's the combination of Bruni's sexy-philosophical lyrics and smoky-throated voice that haunt the listener in particular. My favorite track from the album is the title song. There are about three chords in the thing and Bruni's voice cracks winningly every time she attempts to hit a note above a middle G. But the words, shrugging with a nonchalant sweetness in the face of one's pathetic "little life," are utterly infectious. You don't know if she's being jokey or sincere. Whatever she's being, the music drips sensuality and I just can't get enough.

Here's a link to Bruni's website. Both Quelqu'un m'a dit and her 2007 follow-up album, No Promises, are available in the U.S. via iTunes.

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