Belinda Carlisle's career has had several twists and turns, but none has been quite as interesting as her 2007 album Voila, a collection of luxurious covers of classic French pop tunes, all sung in French. Certainly, the very concept of the former new wave queen singing French pop qualifies as one of the more intriguing projects in her solo career, but it's also interesting that she's chosen this idea for her first solo album in ten years. Given that long gap between new albums, it's clear that Voila is no stunt or novelty, it's a passion project for Carlisle and it plays that way: it has the complexity and richness of a labor of love. Which doesn't necessarily mean that this album is filled with surprises, apart from its very existence. Brian Eno may contribute keyboards, but that doesn't mean that these are radical reinterpretations, nor are the selections necessarily left-field: there are a pair of Serge Gainsbourg songs, a Jacques Brel, and a few other songs that should be familiar to rock and pop listeners with a fairly deep grasp of '60s and '70s pop. Those listeners who were raised on punk, new wave, and alt-rock, but with a deep love of the '60s, are clearly the target audience for Voila, and the best thing about the album is that it will not disappoint. This is an elegant, stylish collection of adult pop, gliding by on its sleek synth textures and cabaret atmosphere. Even when it dips into Eurodisco -- as it does on occasion, as on Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" -- it does so gracefully, and there's an appealing sly decadence to the feel of Voila; it may be a decadence sculpted out of films, LPs, and old photos, one that's knowing but affectionate, but that doesn't mean it's not an alluring, effective mood for the album, particularly because Carlisle sustains it from beginning to end, a problem that she didn't manage to conquer on her big hits of the late '80s. That is a change for her, but the true revelation of Voila is her singing: it's relaxed, assured, and nuanced, the best vocal performance she's had on record. She delivers these songs so smoothly, it's like she's been a chanteuse her entire life, and it's that deep musicality that makes Voila not just a rewarding detour but one of her best albums -- and, with any luck, the first chapter in a new phase of her career.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine