L’au-delà (The Hereafter) is the opening track on Vanessa Paradis’ album, Love Songs released in 2013. Beautifully recorded with strings and lush production by singer/songwriter/actor producer Benjamin Biolay, at other times the album features electric guitars, warm acoustics, muted horns, percussion, piano and soft organ – and some French Pop. The album is Paradis’ first album in seven years after Divinidylle (2007).
Paradis succeeds in slipping inside of your head with her sensuous voice like she is sitting right next to you in the room, her lips close to your ear. Always involved with talented songwriters and producers she arrived at the age of 14 with her childhood hit Joe Le Taxi (1988), the biggest selling single in France and a hit all over the world. Her first album, M&J was a major success in France. Her second album was composed by Franck Langolff with lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg on Variations sur le même ‘aime (1990) and her third self titled and only complete English album a cooperation with Lenny Kravitz from 1992. Her fourth album Bliss (2000) featured Ex Mr Paradis – Johnny Depp.
Love songs contains The Dark Is Coming a duet in English with Carl Barât from The Libertines and later Dirty Pretty Things. Paradis sings Doorway in English but the rest of the album is sung in French despite the English title. The final track is a duet with Biolay (Les Roses Roses) – if you don’t speak French you can simply relax with the beautiful sound of the language imagining the meaning and being swept away by Paradis’ irresistible accent.
If you haven’t seen any of her films you might need to know that Paradis is a talented actress and has won many awards in France and has appeared in 20 films. (I’ve seen three of them, her debut, Noce Blanche, Elisa and Girl On The Bridge with the brilliant Daniel Auteuil).