Charlotte Gainsbourg | Stage Whispers

Elektra
By  |  December 6, 2011

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Released almost exactly two years ago, Charlotte Gainsbourg's brain-injury inspired IRM (French acronym for MRI) was a late entry on many critics' 2009 best-of lists. Gainsbourg, who worked extensively with Jarvis Cocker on 5:55 (2006), pegged Beck for writing and producing IRM — and the superbly talented multi-instrumentalist turned in one of his warmest collections of songs since Sea Change nearly a decade ago. Stage Whispers offers up a live album pulled from 2010's IRM tour as well as an EP's worth of previously unreleased material. The live songs — performed in a somewhat flat, studio-riffic style that one might expect to hear on a live television performance — pull equally from 5:55 and IRM, adding only a sumptuous cover of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman." The new tracks, which flow together as a nice little collection in their own right, comprise four Beck collaborations not issued on IRM as well as one collaboration each with Conor O'Brien (Villagers), Noah and the Whale, and Connan Mockasin. In the new Phoenix-dominated world of English-sung French-pop, Gainsbourg proves able to escape the shadow of her oppressively-famous father, Serge. In fact, her inclinations as a singer put her much more in the domain of her mother, Jane Birkin, who also worked best within the gravity of another's strong creative moon. Although only adequate run-throughs of the studio-album tracks, Stage Whispers' live performances do underscore a continuity between songs from both 5:55 and IRM that otherwise wasn't apparent. Stage Whispers' new offerings, on the other hand, are consistently interesting — especially those featuring Beck. "Terrible Angels" hits the spot, with its buzzy electro-glam production and fey lead vocals, while "Paradiscos" is a luscious icy scoop of droning post-funk. In some respects, this might be a much better gig for Mr. Hansen.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg,  More more >
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