Juste un autre jour diamant
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:32PM
Jennifer Mandel



I have to admit I was a bit meh about this album when I first listened to it.  Sometimes, in the electric anticipation of having just arrived home from the dollar bin with an armful of new finds,  it's easy to have overly ambitious expectations that every album will be a hidden gem.  Invariably you will be let down, especially if you are floating on the high of having just listened to an exciting new discovery. 

And yet, sometimes, upon a second listen,  you realize that a certain record is growing on you, as this one has begun to for me.  Last night was perhaps not the right time to listen to this particular find, but tonight, it's perfect.  It's a chilly winter night, the heater is on, the candles lit, and Marie-Claire Pichaud is crooning her springtime ditties in French.  Or maybe they are winter ditties; the album, after all, is called Noel. But they sound so lilting and Spring-like, I'll just ignore the Christmas-y title.

There was something very familiar about her singing and the production:  the quiet guitar on some tracks, the clarinet, strings, flute and bells on others, but I couldn't place it, until it suddenly occurred to me that she reminded me of a French Vashti Bunyan.  Some of the production, especially on side 1,  sounds exactly as if it were from "Another Diamond Day" but they replaced Vashti's vocals with Marie-Claire's. 

The songs are apparently for children, but the cover, with its stark turquoise background and a creepy photo of a wooden sculpture of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus belies that fact. All the lyrics on the back cover are in French, but there are a few songs with "petit enfant" and "Jesus, mon petit frere" in the lyrics,  so I imagine that if they were sung in English I wouldn't like this album nearly as much.   Add to that the fact that it was recorded in 1956, and there is a picture of Marie-Claire in a proto-hippie poncho and beads, strumming her nylon-string guitar (check out that old-school capo!) in all her subtle Gallic beauty. 

Condition: C'est bon!

Wine pairing: A glass of Bordeaux, avec une baguette et brie

Score: Un Franc, mais bien sûr!


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