The Piaf-Inspired Journey Continues, (05/14/08)
Christine Albert's ancestors on
her mother's side can be traced back to France and Switzerland, so
it's hardly a stretch to conclude that Albert should be influenced
by the music of la belle France. While Marion Cotillard's
recent (critical, commercial, and professionally) successful
portrayal of the Paris songbird Edith Piaf in the film La
Vie En Rose has regenerated interest in Piaf's music and that of
her contemporaries, Albert's musical journey began over a decade and
a half ago with TexaFrance, was reprised five years back with
TexaFrance - Encore! and continues apace with (the subtly
titled) Paris, TexaFrance. Born in Rome - the one in upstate
New York - Albert has been an Austin, Texas, resident for over two
and a half decades. Relative to Spanish and British colonists, the
French were not major contributors to Texas history and culture.
That said, my reason for stating subtly a few sentences back is
that, there is of course a Paris, Texas (located north east of the
Dallas/Fort Worth conurbation), while in 1984 Wim Wenders directed a
movie of the same name...and, of course, there was Lily, Albert's
maternal grandmother, who loved living in Paris.
With eleven lyrics performed in French and/or English, Albert
launches her third Gallic excursion in the foregoing language with
the happy-go-lucky "Swing Troubadour," penned by singer-songwriter
Charles Trenet (and his frequent collaborator Leon
Chauliac). Trenet was at his prime from the 1930s through the
1950s, a period when Piaf also enjoyed commercial success at home
and abroad and on this collection Albert covers her "Chante-Moi" ("I
Sing"), "Don't Cry" ("C'est D'la Faute A Tes Yeux"), and closes the
collection with "Hymne a L'amour" ("Hymn To Love"). Piaf penned the
lyrics to many of the songs she performed and "Chante-Moi" -
recently discovered by Albert - dates from 1951, while "Don't Cry"
is one year younger. "Hymn To Love" also dates from 1950 and is a
tribute to Piaf's married lover and world middleweight boxing
champion Marcel Cerdan who perished in October 1949 while flying
from Paris to New York City to visit Piaf.
Paris, Texafrance also finds Albert interpreting more
recent compositions by non-French composers. MoonHouse labelmate
Michael Austin wrote "When You're Away" with Roy Eisenstein
and included it on his 2004 album Thick 'N Thin. Translated
into French by Albert, it appears here as "Quand T'es Ailleurs."
Jesse Winchester's "L'Air De la Louisiane" has been covered by
Jimmy Buffett and first surfaced on the former's 1974 album
Learn To Love It. Talking of previous cover versions, Art
Garfunkel, Anne Murray, Bette Midler, and the late
Nicolette Larson cut Adam Mitchell's "French Waltz."
[See Note] Albert was introduced to the song via Larson's 1978
rendition. Such is Albert's deep affection for the number that in
the accompanying press release she unequivocally states "I heard
this in the '70s and it felt like 'my' song."
Produced by Albert's husband, Chris Gage (guitars, piano,
accordion), the local pickers on Paris, Texafrance include
upright bass player David Carroll, drummer/percussionist
Paul Pearcy, and mandolinist Paul Glasse. Albert apart,
Glasse has contributed to all three collections, while I guess Edith
Piaf remains Albert's constant and unwavering inspiration. Bravo.
Note: Born in Glasgow, Scotland, around 1944, Mitchell was
a latter day member of mid-1960s Toronto band The Paupers.
Resident in California by the mid-1970s, Mitchell went on to build a
successful career as a producer/hit songwriter - including work with
Kiss! Mitchell relocated to Nashville during 1996.
Arthur Wood is a founding editor of FolkWax. You may
contact Arthur at