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Belinda Carlisle - Voila Review

by Dan MacIntosh

You'll first need to get over the seeming mismatch between artist and repertoire before listening to this new CD. Belinda Carlisle, isn't she a singer-chick who got fat (both physical and monetarily) while leading the Go-Gos? And isn't she the same woman who slimmed down to become a pop solo diva with hits like 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth'? And didn't this former punk rocker marry some Republican politician or other? The answer to all of these questions is 'Yes,' which makes 'Voila' such an unexpected release.

The title, 'Voila,' gives you a big hint about its contents. That word means 'here it is' (I think) and here it is: Carlisle's all-French language album.

Who knew Carlisle had a French language album in her, let alone that she speaks/sings French? And what's equally surprising, Carlisle sings well in this language of love.

Another plus, for all you non-French music fans, is that Carlisle has mostly chosen songs by familiar artists. Serge Gainsbourg is represented by 'Bonnie Et Clyde' and 'Contact.' And even if you took long naps during high school French class, it doesn't take an interpreter to tell you that 'Bonnie Et Clyde' is about that rootin' tootin' bank robbing couple. Heck, they even made a movie about 'em. Songstress Francoise Hardy is represented by 'Pourttant Tu M'Aimes.' Most familiar of all is 'La Vie En Rose,' which will forever be associated with that femme fatale, Edith Piaf.

Musically, Carlisle has put aside the guitar-bass-drums of her Go-Go's days, as well as the BPM drive of her dance-rock solo past, for something that is a whole lot more traditional. One hears such elements as accordion, violins, and flamenco guitar supporting Carlisle's vibrato.

If all this French stuff is a little much for you, the package also comes with a bonus disc of four English language songs. These are: 'I Still Love Him,' 'La Vie en Rose,' 'Bonnie and Clyde,' and 'If You Go Away.' 'I Still Love Him' is a straight ahead rocker, with chunky guitar and plunky piano. 'La Vie en Rose' is turned into a dance track, which is not unlike something Madonna might have done with the tune.

The CD booklet includes a picture of Carlisle dressed prim and proper in a female business outfit and walking a big black poodle on a leash. And like this picture, you get the impression Carlisle is merely playing the part of a French singer. I don't expect she'll bring that poodle along for her next disc, nor will she be singing in something other than her native tongue. Bur for this brief Parisian moment, Belinda, you go-go, girl.

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Belinda Carlisle - Voila


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