Cœur brings a refreshing burst of pop disco and funk into the summer of 2021 complimented by thoughtfully crafted lyrics.
(Romance Music, 2021)
Much like a second novel, second albums are always a challenge. Artists pour their blood, sweat and every drop of creativity into their debut, then the added pressure of fan expectations, critics and staying relevant can put a damper creative flow, to put it lightly.
For Clara Luciani her debut album Sainte-Victoire (2018) catapulted her into the spotlight. The release clocked up millions of streams, went triple platinum and it won her best female artist at the Victoires de la Musique Awards (equivalent of the Grammy Awards). The French press hailed the Côte-D’Azur singer-songwriter as “the new pearl of French pop”, so no pressure, huh?
Luckily, the Luciani has delivered once again with a much-needed antidote to lockdown gloom; Cœur (trans. Heart) was made for dancing to.
The album is a collection of beautifully written love songs, chronicling the ups and the downs of relationships and heartbreak.
Opening track Cœur sets the upbeat tone for the rest of the album with a funky and rhythmic bass guitar line and catchy melody, but lyrically it touches on a darker theme “L’amour n’a jamais tué personne” (trans. “Love never killed anyone”). Similar to her previous single La Grenade, Luciani alludes to femicide and domestic violence, and the songwriting is consistently imaginative and poetic: “Chaque fois qu’on la frappe, il y pousse une violette” (trans. “Every time you hit her, a violet grows back”).
The second song, lead single Le Reste is lighter in tone. It’s a perfect pop disco number about letting go of a past relationship in a cathartic release of regret and nostalgia, with affectionate and sensual lyrics. The production here is superb with accentuated crisp bass lines and riffs balanced with clear vocals, and the same high quality can be said for the rest of the album.
All written and recorded in the Covid-19 lockdown, the aptly-named Respire encore (trans. Breathe Again) is a pop homage to nightlife, it’s urgent and excitable with sweeping strings and a dance beat. It’s a song truly made to be played on stage.
J’sais pas plaire offers rare pause and it’s is an intimate reflection on the singer’s own self-doubt and insecurities about not knowing how to charm or flirt, recorded with just plucked guitar and voice. The song is an audio freeze frame on the crowded dance floor with the spotlight on a lone figure.
There is however one dud on the album: Sad and Slow with musician and Call My Agent‘s guest star and Julien Doré. It’s a tick box unimaginative ballad angling for an international appeal outside the francophone.
Tout Le monde (sauf toi) (trans. Everyone (except you)) and Le chanteur (trans. the singer) take their cues from François Hardy, Véronique Sanson and France Gall à la chanson française with a hint of ABBA in their infectiously catchy choruses and instrumentals. Tout Le monde (sauf toi) is a love song and longing gaze across the bar, while the other is a warning against falling for a free-spirited singer.
At its heart (pun intended), Cœur is a love letter to sorely missed nightlife, live music and dancing.
- Songwriting5/5 Certified TUNEImaginative and poetic lyrics with catchy ABBA-influenced melody lines.
- Production4/5 Pretty greatFunky bass lines and vocals are at the forefront of most songs (bar the ballads), and then varied drums, synths, pianos and backing vocals keep things interesting.
- Vibes4/5 Pretty greatThis album ties together well with an identifiable disco pop and funk theme but during the 11 songs it starts to sound a bit similar.