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Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday's French music break - Chimène Badi, Gospel and Soul

Friday's French music break this week comes from a woman with arguably one of the biggest, most resonant and gorgeous voices around on the French music scene.

Chimène Badi (screenshot from "Ain't no mountain high enough" video)

It's the latest album from Chimène Badi, the woman who didn't win the French reality TV talent show Popstars but still managed to build a successful career largely due to her talent.

And this time around she's turned her magnificent voice to Gospel and Soul - an obvious choice really - with the unfortunately unimaginatively entitled"Gospel and Soul".

Still, at least you know what to expect.

After a build-up like that you would expect a glowing review.

Sadly that's not the case.

While it's clear that Badi has found a blend that suits her voice and the album is well produced, there's a certain grittiness lacking.

Badi's distinctive and instantly recognisable voice is just too perfectly polished and some tracks, such as her version of "Mercedes Benz", come across as Carpenters'-inspired syrupy sweet.

She barely revisits "Amazing Grace" instead giving a tame copy of what has been sung umpteen times before and it simply lacks that certain "oomph" you might be hoping for.

The album is supposed to be, according to her official website, a tribute to those singers and songs who have influenced Badi, both American and French.

There is, for example, Stevie Wonder's "For once in my life", Otis Redding's "Try a little tenderness", Georges Moustaki's "Ma liberté" or Native's (how great it is to hear one of their songs again) "Tu planes pour moi".

And while they're all delivered better than many other French singers around today could manage, they're far from being anything approaching extraordinary.

It's a shame really as Badi most definitely has a voice that could do justice to Gospel and Soul songs - it's just not the case with this album which comes across as just a little too Las Vegas.

Gospel and Soul was released in November 2011 and sales of this, her fifth studio album, have already outstripped those of the disappointing 2010 offering "Laisse-les dire".

Maybe once Badi takes her show on the road again and gives some real live feeling and quality to the songs she's interpreting, they'll become something more than Middle-of-the-road listening.

Judge for yourself with Badi's version of "Ain't no mountain high enough" the second track to be lifted from the album as a single and which sees her team up with US Soul singer, Billy Paul, best known for his 1972 hit "Me and Mrs Jones".

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