Face á Face

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From heavy metal to rap and dance-pop, just about any style of music that has been embraced by English-speaking Americans has also been performed in France. Because of the language barrier, however, very little of France's popular music has enjoyed exposure in the U.S. -- Americans know about Edith Piaf, but not many of them could tell you a lot about France's hip-hop, rock, or dance music of the 1980s and 1990s. In an ideal world, the language barrier wouldn't prevent non-French speaking audiences from enjoying Saga's debut album Face á Face, an intriguing pop-rock effort that manages to be sleek and bluesy at the same time. Evocative, poetic items like "Sax," "C'etait Pour Te Dire," and "L'ancien" don't actually have a 12-bar format -- none of the songs do. Even so, the vocalist's love of both southern and northern blues comes through in a major way. Ironically, Saga uses the French language to paint vivid pictures of the U.S.-- "Baton Rouge," for example, expresses the artist's admiration for Mississippi and Louisiana's blues greats, while "Indien" reflects on the history of Native Americans. A CD that is as unpredictable as it is unorthodox, Face á Face makes one hope that Saga is among the French artists to reach U.S. audiences.

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