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The voice deserves 5 stars, the songs are too formatted
am 14. Juni 2004
Nolwenn won Star Academy 2d season (equivalent to Spain Operacion Triunfo and UK Fame Academy). Her voice and technical skills made her the vocal coach pet. The 15 other contestants reckon she had the best voice of the gang. She seduced several serious people in the business, even some reluctant to real TV concepts.
Laurent Voulzy, one of the most reserved among French artists, wrote her the luminous "Suivre une étoile" (follow a star), Lara Fabian gave her "Inévitablement", a typical Lara Fabian's ballad. One of my favourite sons is "Une femme cachée", elegantly written by Daniel Lavoie: "one woman hidden inside of me, one woman ready for all fights would like that when she'll wake up, you'd hear her voice and you'd be there to open her your arms". It's a beautiful song about leaving adolescence and becoming a woman (Nolwenn was 20).
Pascal Obispo is producing most of the album, bringing with him some of his usual songwriters. Lionel Florence wrote the power ballad "Cassé" (broken), the first single about a lost love (some saw an allusion to Nolwenn's dad who left the house when she was 10). It went to n°1. He also wrote "14 Février": "There are days when gods forget about you, when some memories become heavy, days you shouldn't live or you should put between parenthesis, just one day I erased forever, February 14". Finally he collaborated to "Rayer l'émotion inutile" (delete the useless emotion) with Hocine Hallaf, one of the mid-tempo songs of the album I like a lot.
"Finir contre toi" gives Nolwenn the possibility to show some sensuality and it fits her warm voice very well: "I will never tell you wher my desires take me, how much my body hates me when I destroy those dreams; he who feels the warmth of your hidden looks, who burns every hour spent next to you; if you knew (...) the battle I fight not to end up close to you". It is another of my favourites.
"Vu d'en haut" has a strong chorus that makes it a real pop anthem but the evident construction might quickly tire the listener: "Seen from above there is only air and water, there is no chains or no bars, seen from above, a life without frontiers and without flags; all I see is the light of some torchs, seen from above". "Etre une femme" has the same type of structure: "To be a woman on earth, be a queen or be a mother, or barefoot without prayers, we're always lonely; be a woman on earth is love or hell, it's sowing without knowing it the beginning of a story". "Jure-moi" is another song to show Nolwenn's power vocals skills. "Ce qu'il nous faudrait" (what we would need" is a sweet and tender album filler, used as b-side for "Cassé". The song is about wishing a better life and better understanding between humans. "Qui mieux que moi" (who better than me will know how to love you) sounds as well much like a filler and closes the album on a quiet note.
Knowing that Nolwenn was only given one month to choose the songs and record them, while rehearsing for the Star Academy tour with 7 other contestants, I can only applause at the effort. She cleverly chose among what was proposed, the producers did a good job and she avoids falling into the "screaming from the top of my lungs" type of vocals even in the power ballads. Her next step will be to release a less formatted and more personal second album (she should enter in studio in November 2004) to stand up against the numerous French divas of the moment. She will also have to learn to communicate her passion to her public. Seeing her singing live Tori Amos (Crucify), Sarah McLachlan (I will remember you) or "Kissing you" alone with her piano promises the best.