Camille's music has always been quintessentially experimental, and quintessentially French. On OUÏ, she takes both of those aspects to new heights. Initially, she planned to follow 2011's sparse, medievally influenced Ilo Veyou with a collection of political songs inspired by traditional French dances as a response to tragedies such as the 2015 Bataclan shooting; instead, she drew from all the possibilities life has to offer (including her own motherhood). OUÏ is built on the many homonyms in Camille's native tongue; "oui" ("yes") sounds a lot like "l’ouï" ("hearing"). She uses this concept brilliantly, echoing the album title's intersection of acceptance and listening on the remarkable "Fontaine de Lait," where she juxtaposes conception and lactation imagery over bubbling clarinets and cooing backing vocals, and on "Langue," a sweet exploration of the physical and emotional sides of language. Camille throws Anglophones a bone with "Seeds," an English-language expression of OUÏ's hopeful, playful messages set to a martial beat, but the album offers many more delights for listeners who don't understand French. Chief among them is Camille's voice, which is layered beautifully and creatively on songs like "Lasso," where there's so much energy and precision that the vocal arrangement feels more like choreography. OUÏ's instrumentation is just as inspired, with carefully chosen percussion and synths that support the vocals while adding more nuance and range. There's an almost sacred quality to somber songs such as "Sous le Sable" and "Nuit Debout" that hints that the album was recorded in a 14th century monastery, while "Piscine" takes this moodiness in a darkly whimsical direction. Elsewhere, Camille combines modern and traditional elements in original ways. "Les Loups"' round-like melody could be ancient, yet its beats and nagging synth bass are anything but. Likewise, the sub-bass and crunchy beats on "Je ne Mâche pas Mes Mots" nod to hip-hop, while its fluttering backing vocals have a distinctly choral feel. No matter how unexpected the combinations, OUÏ is always utterly charming, and one of Camille's finest reinventions of tradition.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares