Encouraged by the response to her performance at the Juste Pour Rire festival's tribute to comedian Patrick Huard, Francophone chanteuse Nicole Martin returns from the musical wilderness with Cocktail de Douceur. Inspired by radio host Paul Arcand's suggestion of following Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook template, the belated follow-up to 1993's Un Noel d'Amour sees the Quebec singer/songwriter tackle the classic jazz, blues, and swing standards from the '30s and '40s with a little help from producer Julie Lamontagne, whose subtle arrangements faithfully re-create the smoky cocktail bar vibes of the originals. Alongside three songs performed in English (George Gershwin's Broadway number "The Man I Love," Rudy Vallée's "P.S. I Love You," and St. Louis Woman's show tune "Come Rain or Come Shine"), there are French interpretations of Great American Songbook classics including Nat King Cole's "That's All" ("Pour Te Plaire"), Frank Sinatra's "Night and Day" ("Tout Le Jour, Toute La Nuit"), Ethel Waters' "Stormy Weather" ("Nostalgia"), and iconic native-tongued tracks such as Yves Montand's "Les Feuilles Mortes," Edith Piaf's "Hymne a L'amour," and Charles Trenet's "Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours." Proving that the lengthy time away hasn't weakened her talents, Martin's graceful vocals remain as elegant as ever, and while none of the disc's 13 tracks provide definitive interpretations, Cocktail de Douceur is still a welcome Gallic alternative to a tried and tested formula and should place Martin back where she belongs.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien