CD: Céline Dion – Sans Attendre | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Céline Dion – Sans Attendre
Park those prejudices, Céline Dion’s return to her native language has some delights in store
Before approaching any Céline Dion album, a number of obstacles have to be navigated: the anticipation that over-singing is on the horizon, or the knowledge of her Trilby-like relationship to Svengali René Angélil. Most of all though, it’s the fact that she’s so far off the cool scale she might as well be from the Planet Naff rather than Québec. And the album’s slightly cheesy chick lit-style graphics don’t help. But life is strewn with moments which confound. Sans Attendre, her first French-language album for five years, isn’t going to stop the world turning. But it is good.
In general, Sans Attendre embraces a glossy, modern chanson Française with songs that have yearning, rolling melodies. The mid-pace is never breached, and any chance to dive into a soaring chorus is taken. In restating her Gallic status, Dion sings duets with Johnny Hallyday, the now-deceased Henri Salvador (via some magic), and the legendary Québécoise artist Jean-Pierre Ferland (who co-wrote another track). Her early inspiration Luc Plamondon also contributes a song, as do Maxime Le Forestier, Miossec and Grand Corps Malade. In Anglo-Saxon terms, this is the equivalent of Elvis, Bacharach & David, Elvis Costello, Paul Weller and Plan B mucking in.
What’s most striking about Sans Attendre is its restraint. The swirling “Celle qui m'a tout appris” could have transformed itself into a power ballad, but instead it’s about the melody and mood. Even the massed kiddie chorus on “Le Miracle” is kept in check and doesn’t stray into the glutinous. And as for Hallyday, he reins in his tendency towards the full force. “Je n’ai pas besoin d’amour” is an intimate, aural swoon. Give this a chance, because it’s stylish modern pop of a type that begs to be heard beyond the world it’s addressing.
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