Louis Philippe

My Favourite Part of You

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Over the years Louis Philippe has almost single-handedly upheld the moribund art of the sleeve note, reflecting on his music's provenance, sources of inspiration, and recording process with insight and humor. Significantly, he chose to forego this tradition for the first time on My Favourite Part of You, an indication that the songs it contained were some of the most personal of his career to date, and required no further elucidation. This lack of adornment carries over into the music itself, which by Philippe's standards borders on the austere. Lest anyone run away with the idea that the result is a harrowing descent into the tortured soul of the artist, however, it must be said straight away that by anyone else's standards MFPOY would be considered an oasis of melody and harmony. Indeed "A Face in the Crowd" sounds like a long-lost Bacharach classic, complete with sprightly fl├╝gelhorn solo, while "True Love" is one of several songs that boast a typically elegant arrangement for the Covent Garden String Ensemble -- though the sweetly voiced syllables of "f*ckall" suggest that darker emotions lie beneath the song's tranquil surface. A further highlight is provided by the somber "Before the Rain," one of three songs with lyrics by the English novelist Jonathan Coe -- its piercing one-note trumpet solo a masterful demonstration of the old adage that less is more. Throughout, too, the listener cannot fail to be aware that Philippe's voice -- fresh from the trial by fire of Nusch, his album of songs by Francis Poulenc -- has acquired a sinewy strength. Most notably, on a song like "I Need It," he is able to express an intensity of longing far beyond his previous emotional range. All told, MFPOY may be its composer's most strictly conventional album, for the most part denuded of the luscious harmonies and dense orchestrations that are undeniably a major part of Philippe's appeal. But its (relative) simplicity and direct may appeal to many who usually find his work over-ornate and too clever by half.

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