Henri Salvador

Révérence

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At 88 years old, Henri Salvador has been a popular figure in the French music world for quite a while (he started there in 1945). In 2000, he reinvigorated his career and reintroduced himself to the public with Chambre Avec Vue (re-released as Room with a View two years later) and since then has been going quite strong, coming out with Ma Chère et Tendre in 2003, and now Révérence in 2006. Recorded mostly in Brazil under the direction of Caetano Veloso's -- who makes an appearance here on a new version of "Dans Mon Île" -- longtime producer and arranger Jaques Morelenbaum, Salvador continues his legacy as singer of the sweet melancholy. The quiet, breathy strings and soft bossa nova rhythms that are incorporated into many of the pieces on the album add to the overall poignancy of Salvador's voice, which shows no sign of aging, still smooth and clean, reflecting the warmth of his native French Guyana. It works especially well on the francophone version of the classic Vinicius de Moraes/Antonio Carlos Jobim song "Eu Sei Que Voi Te Amar," retitled "Tu Sais Je Vais T'Aimer" here (it appears twice on Révérence actually, once as a solo track and once as a duet with Gilberto Gil), where the longing and suffering of love come through in the timbre of his voice, the hesitation in his phrasing. In "Italie (Un Tableau de Maître)," he riffs on a familiar Italian melody as he reminisces about the country, talking about it like a woman he loves, even slipping into its own language for a line or so, and in "Cherche la Rose," one of three older tracks on the album, and done with Caetano Veloso, there's a bittersweet hesitancy to the way he sings the song 40 years after its initial release that comes only from the experience and understanding he's gained as he's gotten older. This is where he's best, and most comfortable, and it's what sounds the best, too, so it makes sense that most of Révérence stays in the adagio, in the reflection. In fact, it even seems a little out of place when Salvador moves into faster, jazzier pieces like the gospel-inspired "Alléluia! Je l'Ai dans la Peau" or the Frank Sinatra-esque "L'Amour Se Trouve au Coin de la Rue," adding saxophones and bright drums and coming across slightly forced, albeit exuberant. Salvador has aged nicely, and settled down into his years, and the best bits of Révérence convey this perfectly, the life of an artist who has truly been inspired, and inspired countless others.

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