I have to admit, I’m not really sure why I’ve been sitting on this one for so long. I mentioned it on facebook a few weeks ago, but unless you’re a fan (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be) who happened to be online at the time, chances are, you missed it. I suppose, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had hoped to write this entry in French (as you may have deduced, I have not done so). Regardless, in a rash of dabbling in French music about a month ago, I came across Amelie-les-crayons (yes, it is as ridiculously cool as it sounds).
Honestly, where the music is concerned, I think it is most accurate to say that it sounds French. I mean quintessentially French, often favoring nylon string guitars, piano, woodwinds, accordion, and handclaps (very often, in waltz time), to the extent that, in listening to it, I feel as if I am sitting in a cafe on a cool September evening (and not just because I am sitting in a cafe on a cool September evening). Amelie’s raw vocal quality is firmly rooted in the French chanteuse tradition, but in the execution of her songs, that voice takes on a life of it’s own, almost the character of an absurdist cabaret. If you are familiar with Edith Piaf’s “Bravo Pour le Clown”, imagine that sort of spirit, but unrelenting. You’ve never heard anything like it. More importantly,
you’ve never seen anything like it.
Because there is more to Amelie-les-crayons than just the music (as good as that music is). Amelie-les-crayons is about performance: about creating her own little world and locking you inside with her until you beg her never to let you out. An Amelie-les-crayons performance is a glimpse into this world, blurring the line between Amelie the person and Amelie the Persona (one thing you won’t see is Amelie the rock star). The lighting is intricate, the sets are elaborate, the piano blooms (yes, I said “blooms”), and the energy is palpable (even on YouTube). I wish she would tour here in the States. Luckily for us is in this part of the world, in addition to two albums and an EP, the last two touring shows have been released on DVD (Le Tour de la Question and A l’Ouest). Now, we too can experience the world of Amelie-les-crayons (at least, those of us with multi-region DVD players can). For now, you can get a taste for it below and if you want more (and you will want more), explore the official website; the “Bonus” section is loaded with other videos.