Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Paradis

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French pop star (and significant other of Johnny Depp) recorded her English-language debut record in 1991; the self-titled disc was a bit of a flop commercially, but, surprisingly, succeeds artistically. Producer Lenny Kravitz gives Vanessa Paradis some of his best songs and she really can carry a tune with her breathy little-girl vocals. The highlights of the record are many, but the songs that will have you smiling like a fool at the sheer poptasticness of it all are the gliding funk with orchestra of "Natural High;" the strutting girl group of "Be My Baby;" the sweet-as-sugar sunshine pop of "Sunday Mondays;" the psych-soul of "Your Love Has Got a Handle on My Mind" (which features Paradis' most assured vocal and a nice background assist from Kravitz); and the sweet soul of "Just as Long as You Are There." Even her cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man" works wonders. It really shouldn't, but the propulsive beat and Paradis' sexy vocals somehow do the trick. The only song that falls flat is the autumnal folk of "Silver and Gold," as the ultra-serious lyrics and tone are painfully out of step with the glitter and groove of the rest of the record. Kravitz should be praised for his wonderful production. He rarely makes a wrong move and provides wonderful settings for Paradis to shine. It is too bad they didn't make more records together. Johnny Depp's gain is pop music's loss. Odds are there will never be a deluxe reissue (sadly), so you will have to seek this out in used stores and bargain bins.

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