Jane Birkin - Rendez-Vous

I wasn't even born when Jane Birkin hooked up with Serge Gainsbourg for their 1969 iconoclastic, controversial duet "Je T'aime (Moi Non Plus)". In the UK at least this is what she is most celebrated for, but there is a lot more to Jane Birkin than that. She's recorded over a dozen albums, appeared in more than 50 films and has been active in the theatre for numerous productions. The creative juices continue to flow for Miss Birkin on her new album "Rendez-Vous", a collection of duets, collaborations and covers sung in French and English.

The album begins with a song written about Jane by French world music artist Mickey 3D simply entitled "Je M'Appelle Jane". Structurally it's simply arranged and has a jaunty and quirky appeal that's hard to resist. The persistent percussion leads the song exceptionally well. It's charming and certainly fascinatingly chaotic in a way that's hard to express with just words. The French language sounds so romantic and Birkin and Mickey 3D sing together like star crossed lovers. Smoother than a Fox's cravat, Bryan Ferry lends his dulcet tones to "In Every Dream Home A Heartache". The genial Geordie equips himself well on this sinister sounding offering which has Bryan sounding suitably world weary, keeping to the spirit of this dark track. It's certainly offbeat mixing unsettling electronics with fuzzbox guitars with just a hint of eastern promise.

"Strange Melody" is written by Beth Gibbons from Portishead and you can hear that unmistakable voice during the chorus. Jane Birkin's spoken word delivery is a masterstroke and commands your attention from the outset. It's like listening to a short story set to music, a haunting ballad full of melodrama and mystery. Brian Molko very rarely leaves his band Placebo to work with other artists, but when he does the results are certainly interesting. His sneering, petulant vocal on "Smile" sees our American friend's sarcasm seething as he tells us "Smile and the world smiles with you". Backed by grand piano and careful orchestration Molko's distinctive voice is the perfect foil to Birkin's more mannered but luscious voice.

"Rendez Vous" is a continental confection bringing together a rich tapestry of performers who each bring their own individual qualities to an album brimming with delight and true innovative artistry.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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