Maude Audet Makes a Successful Play to Anglophone Audiences with 'Translations' of Her French Originals
Published Apr 19, 2021Revisiting her French-sung 2020 album, Tu ne mourras pas, and other previous works, Montreal pop-folk songwriter Maude Audet has offered up a collection of her tunes rewritten for English listeners, aptly titled Translations. Audet enlisted bilingual singer-songwriter Carole Facal for the expertly translated works, and through their partnership, the pair have succeeded in opening up Audet's catalogue to Anglo audiences.
From the record's opening guitar on "You're Shaken" to her closing cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Audet's affinity for minor-key sentimentality serves up more of the retro pastiche originally cast into the ether with her original records. Here, she offers morose-yet-hopeful tones backed by jangly guitar and banjo, delivering chamber pop palettes with assistance from a string section, organ player, gongs, flutes and a veritable euphony of other traditional instruments.
The sonically decorated orchestral work, however, manages to remain sparse in its arrangements, offering a delicate nine tracks led by Audet's whispering vocals inflected with her Francophone accent. Without relegating Audet's work to the category of English-sung French music, it's hard not to draw comparisons to France-born psych-popster Melody's Echo Chamber. But where Melody Prochet's catalogue embraces more psychedelic influences and '60s pop, Audet counters with dreamier, airier tones akin to Belle and Sebastian, with lyrics grounded in whimsy and romance.
Standout track "In the River" brings Audet's romanticism to the fore, embodying the comfort of being loved with the metaphor of being enveloped in water, an ageless tangible entity contrasted against other intangible human forces. Harnessing more of that spiritous, silky energy, Audet breathes new life into her ode to Leonard Cohen with the album's English-translated "Leo Leo," of which the original was written the day after the Canadian music legend passed away. Concluding with her Nirvana cover, the record ends off on a diminished, poetic note.
Translations does have its moments of flatness, but if Audet set out with the goal of seducing English-speaking audiences, with this record, it's likely she'll succeed. This is companion music to soundtrack moments of light summer breezes, brushing sun-warmed bodies suspended in waterside hammocks. The gentleness, the bewitching detachment Audet propagates on this album translates well — regardless of whose mother tongue it's sung in. (Bravo Musique)