Coeur de Pirate, the eponymous album debut by Québécoise singer/songwriter Béatrice Martin, was something of a novelty success at first, as one of its songs garnered media attention as the soundtrack to a viral YouTube video, yet the album was a success all the same and well-deserving of its eventual international hit status. Coeur de Pirate is a rather simple album, comprised of spare songs performed on piano by Martin. There is additional instrumentation, but not much -- some acoustic guitar, bass, and strings here and there, but mostly just Martin and her piano. In fact, there would be little worthy of note about this album if she weren't such a talented songwriter and such a charming presence. Her moniker alone, Coeur de Pirate "Pirate Heart" in English), is charming, and this charm is further enhanced by her young age (18 years old at the time of the album's original release) and innocent demeanor (in juxtaposition to the full-sleeve tattoo on her right arm). It also helps that she has a remarkable backstory. Classically trained on piano, an instrument she began playing at age three, Martin began writing songs as a teenager and was discovered on the social-networking website MySpace. Upon signing a recording contract with the Montreal-based independent label Grosse Boîte, she made her album debut in 2008, and while some Canadians were keen to note the excellence of her music right away, it took a while for the mainstream to catch on. Her mainstream breakthrough finally came when a viral YouTube video featuring her song "Ensemble," as its soundtrack garnered media attention from the likes of Good Morning America and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. Before long she was a sensation in Canada and eventually France, where the adorable album standout "Comme des Enfants" was a Top Five hit on the singles chart. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes in duration, Coeur de Pirate is a quick listen, despite its 12-song track listing, with all of the songs running more or less between two and three minutes, even the mid-album instrumental "Intermission." The brief running time adds to the album's simple allure, as it all ends too soon yet just soon enough to leave the lasting desire for more. Almost too perfect for its own good (hence the air of novelty), Coeur de Pirate is a special album, and one can only wonder what Martin will do for its follow-up.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier