It’s appropriate that the album cover of Carla Bruni’s fourth album, Little French Songs, is a simple photo of the Italian-French singer and a presumably acoustic guitar because, well, that’s what the majority of this album consists of, Carla simply singing along to acoustic guitar. To that end, it’s so very mellow that it could pass for an album of lullabies. Which isn’t to say that it’s boring because it’s actually quite wonderful and a very pleasant listen. It’s just not something you would want to listen to while driving late at night unless it’s your intention to fall asleep and crash.
I suppose most would call this French pop or chanson for the simple reason that most of the songs are in French, but to my ears it sounds much more like folk that just so happens to be in French. If not folk, then I’d classify it as singer/songwriter fare, not that “singer/songwriter” really tells you a whole lot. (I mean, technically, Justin Bieber could be considered a singer/songwriter, but that’s not what you imagine when you hear that label, so I digress.) Some of the artists it reminds me of are Tracey Thorn, The Civil Wars and A Fine Frenzy (particularly her latest album, Pines). There’s also something of a country vibe to many of these songs as well, but more of an old school country vibe than a contemporary country vibe. The style of the guitar playing here is more like vintage Willie Nelson than, say, Blake Shelton. Carla Bruni is far too talented to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Blake Shelton. (Ironic, since I just did it, but you get my point, right?) But there’s a hint of June Carter in her — just replace the southern U.S. accent with a French one.
I especially like the production of this album. Some of the songs have strings and other instruments, but Carla’s lovely voice — pretty, but with a hint of smokiness — always remains front and center with the acoustic guitar closely behind. I also adore how poetic and whimsical the album is. It might not be intended to be used as lullabies, but I don’t think Carla would object to my saying that it seems intended to inspire daydreams. Little French songs for sweet little daydreams.