Née Dans la Nature

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Helena's Née Dans la Nature is a completely beguiling album. Gentle as spring rain and as intimate as a careful whisper, the 12 songs are easy on the ears and soothing to the soul. Helena has a sweet and quiet voice and producer Phillip Katerine surrounds her with gently strummed guitars, light electronic touches, and simple but effective arrangements that allow the songs (most penned by Helena and Katerine) to glide right into your comfort zone. Unlike her first album, Azul, there is relatively little bossa nova influence here; instead, the record plugs directly into the French chanteuse tradition. In fact, if you close your eyes you can almost imagine tracks like "Mary Poppins" or "Le Jardin Près de la Falaise" to be classic Françoise Hardy or one of the Serge Gainsbourg-produced femme fatales. The only thing that Helena lacks is the sense of drama the earlier generation of French singers had, but in a world full to bursting with drama, there is a place for drama-free ballads like these. Indeed, songs like "Qui Es-Tu?" and "L'Âge de Ma Mère" serve like three-minute massages for tired ears, and her wonderfully languid remake of Kylie's "Can't Get You out of My Head" ought to cure whatever ails you. This album won't change the world a bit, but it will make you feel better if you are feeling blue and that is an important thing.

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