La Grande Sophie

La Place du Fantôme

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Occupying the same eclectic chanteuse territory as Emilie Simon and Camille, Sophie Huriaux, aka La Grande Sophie, has been hopping genres since the mid-'90s but has only recently begun to achieve the same recognition as her counterparts. Following the Grand Prix du Disque success of 2009's Des Vagues et des Ruisseaux and the honor of being invited to write for such iconic French singers as Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan, her sixth album, La Place du Fantôme, should help consolidate her long-overdue success. Produced by jazz collective Le Sacre du Tympan, it's a typically adventurous affair taking in everything from medieval folk ("Ma Radio") to playful Gallic jazz ("Quand On Parle de Toi") to grungy alt-pop ("Sucrer les Fraises"), while also venturing out onto the dancefloor with the Goldfrapp-esque electro-glam of opener "Bye Bye" and the funky '70s disco of "Dans Ton Royaume." But it's on the more introspective numbers when her sultry smoky vocals best reveal their charms, particularly on the atmospheric trip-hop balladry of "Tu Fais Ton Age" and the stunning closer, "Suzanne," which sees her transform from wistful troubadour to operatic banshee on a beautifully restrained slice of melancholic folk. An audacious but still resolutely classy affair, La Place du Fantôme has set the benchmark for Gallic pop in 2012 pretty high.

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