This has been an absolutely huge record in France achieving the highest week one sales in fourteen years and going Double Platinum in its first week of sales. I wasn’t expecting this to land on my desk and when youngest son saw it he declared it rubbish…though I strongly suspect he’s only heard snippets, or none at all.

If you have never heard the name Renaud that doesn’t surprise me, but in France he is an absolute icon of folk-rock with his often politically inspired and anti-authority lyrics. He’s seen as a bit of a rebel and as a youth he was an active participant in the May ‘68 riots and tunes like Sociéte Tu M’Auras Pas ensured he was widely regarded as the voice of Paris.p9ZRycMb

I didn’t want to like this record and fully expected it to be pretty crap if I’m honest, but was pleasantly surprised by the content. Even if Renaud didn’t sing exclusively (other than the odd line on the track Dylan) in his native tongue there is no denying that the music is clearly of French origin; indeed the tune Dylan could be seen as being a bit of a pastiche given a Gallic dusting.

Musically most of the tunes are downtempo, though the footstomping opener (J’ai Embrassé) is a belter of a tune where he speaks of Renaud embracing a cop. Les Mots (track two) takes the mood and tempo down a little with Renaud’s vocal being accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar alone…really quite a beautiful tune. Toujours Debout follows and is a great sixties inspired (jingly guitars) pop tune that I think is the clear hit here. The album ends (although there is a hidden tune) with La Batterie which is Paris personified in song and you know what, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this record.

The boy was wrong and this will get a god deal of play here at Hifi Pig towers and I full understand why it has been such a huge success in France. I’m writing this and listening on headphones whilst on the ferry across to the UK on the day that Britain goes to the polls and decides whether to leave the European Union and the fact that this record is very French sort of brings home to me that we (the English people) are significantly culturally better off being part of the union.

Whether the success of Renaud will be repeated on the English side of the Channel I don’t know, but if you enjoy music that is passionate, defiant and rebellious then you ought to give this a go.

Stuart Smith

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