Françoise Hardy

Maid in Paris

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Recorded in France, Maid in Paris contains six songs by Francoise Hardy sung in English, and six songs in French. "Only You Can Do It" is a subdued Dusty Springfield. Her delightful voice is backed by strings and very '60s pop guitar, bass, and drums. You can hear flavors of the production from Marianne Faithfull's version of "As Tears Go By," but Hardy's voice is not as fragile as Faithfull's. This material would fit nicely in a Bikini Beach movie with Annette & Frankie. The cover has Hardy with psychedelic pillows in a crate, dressed in black like some renegade version of the Velvet Underground's Nico. She doesn't have the homogenization or the range of a Celine Dion, but she should have dominated the U.S. charts during the era of Lulu and Petula Clark. "I Wish It Were Me" is representative of this disc; it's a subtle theme like Cher's "The Way of Love," and clocks in at two minutes and 20 seconds (only the final song, "Je N'Attends Plus Personne," tops the three-minute barrier). "Another Place" adds a little drama, and is one of four that Hardy wrote on her own -- she co-writes seven other titles here -- and performs one tune written without her help. "How Ever Much" is a very pleasant French re-creation of the Phil Spector sound -- heavy on strings, with backing vocals right off Red Bird Records. It ends the English speaking side in very Shangri-Las like fashion. What is appealing about the French side is that the listener doesn't have to understand that language and the words to be entertained. The music speaks for itself. Where the French language doesn't lend itself to rock & roll, as a pop vehicle, it is pleasant to the ear. Unlike her Reprise album Alone, where she is more Americanized than Nancy Sinatra, looking like a voluptuous folk artist on the cover, Maid in Paris is the chanteuse being herself but reaching for the overseas audience without deviating from her style. "Pourtant Tu M'Aimes," with the sha-la-las, would've been an interesting song for Lesley Gore to have covered in the French. "Pars," a folk tune written by Hardy, works nicely, with male backing vocals that sound influenced by early Elvis Presley hits, adding a nice touch. "Je N'Attends Plus Personne" concludes the record with a heavy distorted guitar -- the kind that opened Ann Murray's cover of the Beatles' "You Won't See Me," or the Carpenter's rocking conclusion to "Goodbye to Love." The difference here is that Hardy has a hipness which the heavy guitar re-emphasizes, unlike the Carpenters and Murray, who used it more for shock value. Maid in Paris is a very satisfying pop recording by an artist who should've taken America by storm.

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