April March – In Cinerama
I didn’t approach this with much optimism. Just another French singer who tries to recapture an early 60s girl group ideal. Big deal. So what? But this young lady does it with such expertise, class & creativity it is a big deal.
This was a pleasant surprise. It’s like eating so many tasty Devil Dogs, Ring Dings & Yodels to finally be served some French pastries. There’s nothing special here in that nothing’s intense or heavy. But all the pop ingredients are here for fun with every tune delivering a sweet slice of 60s pop without nostalgia. It’s fresh, invigorating & dare I say, lovely.
April March doesn’t imitate, emulate, copy, or try to recreate. She brings into focus an old genre, reinvents & polishes it. Like putting on new clothes, adding shiny shoes, cutting its hair & the tradition sparkles again. As it once did.
After decades of recording, this is a collection of all-singing, all-dancing, all rocking. April March is not afraid to adapt older styles, shape them to her own program & modernize as she did with “Lift Off,” “Stand In the Sun” & several others. She merged American girl group sensibilities with the 70s new wave.
In Cinerama (Drops March 18–Omnivore) produced by Mehdi Zannad (guitars/keys/backing vocals/brass arrangements) with Elinor Blake (April March) in France & California contain simplistic lyrics, superb vocals set to bright arrangements.
“Cinerama,” for those unfamiliar was an early wide-screen motion picture ratio much the same as Panavision. The accentuation here that makes the songs different, is the Euro-melodic touch — perhaps the Cinerama of her music. It’s not typical American/English style arrangements. These songs have “American” roots but with a more French-Italian accent on melody & performance seldom found in American recordings.
There was a time when foreign female pop singers ruled the charts – Catarina Valente (Italian), Vicki Carr (Spanish), Francoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu & Claudine Longet (all French).
Out of 13 songs, 10 struck me but “Baby,” is the most memorable. A lullaby-like melody sung exceptionally well. Then, a bonus cut “Goodbye” more beautiful stuff. Throughout the set, the female backing vocals are graceful, distinctive & their voices shimmer. Maybe too much so. It makes me see visions of girls in tight plastic mini-skirts dancing on Hullabaloo & Shindig.
“Elinor Blue,” is near Beach Boy-like with a female chorale & strings that are stirring. Some of the many musicians: Tony Allen, Danny Frankel & Raphael Leger (drums), Andy Paley, Benjamin Glibert, & Olivier Marguerit (guitars) with Glibert & Didier Perrin (bass), Romain Jody (bassoon), Sylvaine Helary (flute), Mike Bolger (trumpet/trombone/mellophone), James King (Bari/tenor/alto saxes), String quartet: Cecile Tete, Cedric Laroque (violins), Francoise Bodin (viola), Jeremy Bourre (cello) & Dzijan Emin (conductor string section). Backing vocals: Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford, Petra Haden, Rachel Haden Lola Kirke & Benett Rogers.
This is sweet music — but it won’t give you cavities. Enjoy!
Color photo: Isabel Asha Penzlien. The 42-minute CD is available @ https://www.aprilmarch.com/