Chantal Goya

Féminin: The Complete 60s Recordings

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Chantal Goya is best known today as one of France's best-loved children's entertainers, staging elaborate musical fantasy stories popular with kids and their parents. But like most children's performers, she has a past -- in the '60s, she was an actress and vocalist who cut a handful of records that suggested a Gallic variation of Brill Building pop fused with French music hall sensibilities. While Goya never landed a major hit, she was successful enough to catch the attention of Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her as a pop singer in his 1966 film Masculin Féminin. Féminin: The Complete '60s Recordings brings together the 20 songs she released on a handful of EPs between 1964 and 1967, and this material is certainly above average for the era. Goya's voice is clear and sweet without sounding overly cloying, and the production and arrangements are pure candy floss for the ears, splendidly crafted pop that betrays its heritage as part of the Swinging '60s but is filtered through a distinctly European charm. Most of Goya's material was written and arranged by her husband, Jean-Jacques Debout, but a few tunes were done with the great American session musician and songwriter Mickey Baker, and when this music reaches to American rock & roll for its influences, it succeeds better than most French pop of the era, though Goya had the good sense not to present herself as a natural born rocker. And Goya offered a prescient glimpse of where her career would go later on with "Il Court Les Filles," which references both "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." For fans of European pop of the '60s, Féminin: The Complete '60s Recordings offers 20 fine but lesser-known tracks, and for fans of Goya's later work, this is a fun look at her juvenilia, though there's nothing here that should embarrass her all these years later.

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