Juliette ‘Je n’aime pas la chanson’ (Universal France) 4/5

If the first name does not immediately ring a bell, then the face might because Juliette Noureddine to give her her full name was interviewed for an all too short BBC 4 documentary on the history of the French chanson tradition. This multi-talented individual not only sings in the classic old bar style of interpreting, taking a leaf out of the Brassens, Brel and Piaf tradition, but equally writes books, acts and has produced her own theatre productions. Needless to say, the music has to fit into all these activities, but she had celebrated twenty years of singing at the Grand Rex back in 2005, so another thirteen years can be added on. Born in Paris, but of Algerian Kabyle origin, Juliette settled in Toulouse in south-west France and was born also into a musical family, her father being a saxophonist in the local city orchestra. Her musical upbringing included jazz, Arabic classical as well as popular French chanson, and if there was a woman singer who influenced Juliette most of all, it might just be Barbara. The self-penned songs tell of everyday events such as the weather, ‘Météo marin’, or sport, ‘C’est ça l’rugby!’, or more tellingly of the plight of migrants in exile with ‘Aller sans retour’.

A 14 CD box set of Juliette’s work was released in France. Don’t let the Nana Mouskouri style glasses fool you. She even self-mockingly refers to herself as ‘Juliette Binocle’ (‘Bespectacled Juliette) as opposed to the rhyming name of actress Juliette Binoche. Even here, musicality is at the forefront of her mind. Juliette is a quality French singer who is wonderfully adept at interpreting the classic French tradition. With the recent passing of the great Jacques Higelin (father of Arthur H), there are precious few of these singers still alive to carry on that tradition. One for the discovery section of your record collection.

Tim Stenhouse