Barbara Carlotti: L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent
Opening with its title track sets the scene. L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent is an elegant album, measured and aware of the beauty of what’s being heard. The rolling piano, shimmering guitar and hazy strings are about mood. So is Carlotti’s voice, detached, singing in a lower register about walking naked, her naked feet, legs and arms on the surface of a lagoon. Even so, she’s not exposing herself. This tantalising album teases, wants the listener the get under its skin.
“Look at me, I’ve changed” she sings on 'J’ai Changé'. The subject of the song is in the lines of destiny on her hands, but her skin is tattooed. L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent is an oblique album that can’t be taken at face value. Of course, its pretty songs could wash over the listener, the melancholy enough of an enticement. But, of course, that would miss the point. It’s in keeping with what’s led Carlotti to this point.
Her path has been winding. L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent is Carlotti’s fourth album. The first was 2005’s Chansons, made with Bertrand Burgalat. She then ended up on EMI and her second album for them, 2008’s L’Idéal, was issued here by 4AD. But since then, little apart from the curious 2011 stage show Nébuleuse Dandy, an homage to David Bowie, Oscar Wilde and the glam era’s dandyism. She adopted Bowie’s Aladdin Sane era look. Now though, she’s returned to the record racks via indie label Atmosphériques.
L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent was recorded at five studios. Seven names are credited as Carlotti’s co-producers. Five of its 12 tracks are co-written, one with Philippe Katerine: Mon Dieu Mon Amour, which he also sings on, thankfully without hogging proceedings. Despite the B-52's touches opening 'Quatorze Ans', it’s extraordinary the album is as cohesive as it is. There are wonders here. 'Nuit Sans Lune' is what Air could do if they were less self conscious, had the courage to abandon their instrumental template and concentrate on the songs. 'Le Coeur A L’Ouvrage' sighs with heartbreak. The album closes with the beautiful 'Marche Ensemble'. It’s from the soundtrack to the short film L’Italie, which Carlotti appears in. The song is a piece this jig-saw of an album has been configured to accept.
The lyrics say one thing - she sings of being naked - but all those co-writers, all those studios, a song from a soundtrack: all that makes you wonder, how much of this is really her? You want L’Amour, L’Argent, Le Vent to be Carlotti’s. Her’s alone.