François de Roubaix -Boulevard du Rhum (2009 CD edition)

5 out of 5

Label: Universal

Produced by: Alexis Frankel (mastering)

This is so cheeky sounding without being chintzy; so playfully French sounding without being cliche. It is familiar and yet unique; descriptive of the scenes it scores while being utterly dreamy, and nearly surreal. I imagine that François de Roubaix’s soundtrack to Boulvard du Rhum would be wonderfully charming while watching the movie, perfectly serving the adventure and romance it’s surely there to support, adding that extra notch of intrigue or allure where appropriate; stripped of the visuals it’s a mesmerizing dance of slightly sad and sweet waltzes and polkas, given a certain raw bit of quirk by de Roubaix’s loose playing and the warm production, and the artist’s minimalist take – maybe one or two focal instruments – on the genre. De Roubaix also smartly sticks to standards when giving his vocalists – Brigitte Bardot; Guy Marchand – the stage, meaning there’s no competition; we can focus on them we’re they’re singing, and on François when he’s sing-songing us or getting into a frenzy of strings or keys.

I also recently reviewed a score on which I noted how limiting a theme can be when it’s not iterated upon; Boulevard du Rhum is the best possible example of the other side of this, with de Roubaix carrying a playful tune from track to track, but warped to suit that track’s mood and pace. It thus all beautifully and smoothly flows together, whether jazzier or sillier or more somber or accompanying Bardot.