Françoise Hardy

La Pluie Sans Parapluie

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The English-speaking world may only remember Françoise Hardy as a '60s icon, but in France, she is rightly considered a major artist. The truth is that in the course of a 48-year career, Hardy has released 26 albums, almost invariably excellent. La Pluie Sans Parapluie is her first collection of original material in six years, a period the famously reclusive Hardy spent in putting together a duets album, and writing a very successful autobiography. Compared to 2004's elegiac Tant de Belles Choses, La Pluie Sans Parapluie is a much sunnier album, one that immediately brings to mind the lush yet intimate pop of her early-'70s work, such as Message Personnel and Et Si Je M'en Vais Avant Toi. "Sunnier," however, is an adjective that can only be used in comparison, as Hardy's entire oeuvre is the very definition of nocturnal, embodied in her dreamy hush of a voice against velvety arrangements. In this context, it only means that a few songs, such as the opener "Noir su Blanc" or "Champ d'Honneur," are driven by a typical rhythm track of drums and bass, rather than by piano or strings. Hardy writes the majority of the texts, while longtime collaborator Alain Lubrano and a cohort of France's most stylish tunesmiths such as Calogero, Murat, La Grande Sophie, Arthur H, or Pascale Daniel, as well as Germany's Fouxi and England's Ben Christophers, contribute fitting soundtracks to her catalog of longing, regret, and sensuous abandon. A particularly inspired second half includes gems such as "Le Temps de la Innocence" or "Mister," both worthy of a place among her late-'60s masterpieces Comment Te Dire Adieu or Ma Jeunesse Fout le Camp. As most Françoise Hardy releases go, La Pluie Sans Parapluie could easily double as a handbook in French elegance, it's got timeless class.

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