One of the most unique projects to come across my desk lately is the EP Paris n’existe pas by Son Parapluie (Translation: Paris Does not Exist by My Umbrella), which came about through a partnership between French label Europop 2000 and American cohort 80 Proof Records. Son Parapluie originates with Jérôme Didelot (Orwell) who wrote these new songs to evoke the late the 60’s Paris of Serge Gainsbourg andJane Birkin. Isobel Campbell (Belle & Sebastian, Mark Lanegan duet albums) leads the sterling cast as featured guest vocalist, whilst Jah Wobble (PiL, Invaders of the Heart), Martin Carr (The Boo Radleys, Brave Captain), and noted French engineer/producer Yann Arnaud also appear providing remixes of songs from the project. Japanese singer Sugar Me rounds out the performer list singing on an alternate version of one of the songs.
The lead song and title track, a masterpiece of gentle French pop, explores Paris as metaphor. A place steeped in dreams and fantasies that are unattainable for all but a very few. Does this Paris exist? The listener is left to work that out for themselves but the answer is neither here or there when the magnificent breathy vocals of Isobel Campbell are there to listen to.
My favourite track is ‘I Don’t Finish Anything‘, a track full of indie overtones and immense danceability. The song takes us through the end of love and Isobel’s wonderful voice and delivery tells us that you shouldn’t be surprised as beginnings are better and “I don’t finish anything” anyway. This danceability is also apparent in the second track, ‘Attacking the Sky‘.
I really like this EP – and Jerome has definitely achieved his aim of creating something akin to Serge Gainsbourg / Jane Birkin. Jerome’s advice for aspiring artists is:
“My main advice would be to consider yourself as a perpetual beginner. Once a song or an album is completed, the next stage is always a whole new start. And I think that it is important to leave behind the reactions – positive or negative – and follow your path. If you want to make a song, it is that you have something in you that you have to express. When people hear your music for the first time, you feel a mix of excitement and doubt. Whatever the reaction, it is important to stick to the thing that pushed you in the first place.”
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