Elodie Frégé: La Fille De L’Aprés-Midi
TV talent show winners escaping the clutches of a producer and songwriting team and writing their own songs are a rarity. Some may have escaped the back-room types outside France, but it’s unlikely they’d have ended up on a major label like Universal, the home of the dance-trained and music-schooled Star Academy winner Elodie Frégé.
La Fille De L’Aprés-Midi is Elodie Frégé's third album, following 2006’s Le Jeu de 7 Erreurs, which was produced and half-written by Benjamin Biolay. Frégé did not co-write with him for that album though, instead contributing six of her own songs to the balance (the songs were otherwise mostly written by Biolay). He clearly fancied himself as Serge to her Jane as she covered Gainsbourg’s 'Le Velours Des Vierges' and they sang the fabulous Jane/Serge soundalike title track as a duet (Biolay wrote it). This time around, there’s no Biolay and it’s all hers.
Her style isn’t unique, though it can be effective and affecting, and it's clear that after the Biolay experience Frégé hasn’t fully found her own path. Moments on La Fille De L’Aprés-Midi bring cliché close. The breakbeat-ish drums and cascading strings of “Les Heures Inertes” borrow from textbook trip-hop, while the gently transgressive title track and cover shot have a whiff of Belle de Jour that’s a bit hackneyed. Nothing wrong with classic templates of course, but a little bit of recasting is always nice, especially as Frégé has moved beyond Biolay’s idea of what she is.
La Fille De L’Aprés-Midi is modern French pop that couldn't exist elsewhere. Close-miked singing, a feeling of intimacy, an emphasis on lyrics and gently rolling melodies that, together, evoke loss and reflection. Faster songs like 'Apparement' work less well as Frégé’s voice wants to stretch, but in this setting sounds slightly lost. She’s more at home with slower, more acoustic songs like 'Un Pont' and the intimate, rising-falling title track. The bossa nova-leaning 'Ta Désinvolture' works a treat too. La Fille De L’Aprés-Midi is inconsistent but, at her best, Elodie Frégé stages a Gallic summit between Norah Jones and Bebel Gilberto.
© Kieron Tyler