Marc Lavoine ‘Je reviens à toi’ LP/CD (Barclay/Universal France) 4/5

Actor (theatre and cinema) and singer since the 1980s with a reputation of writing in-depth emotional songs, Marc Lavoine is a man of many talents, and his gruff voice and songwriting skills have proven a success with a niche audience in France. As a young singer making his was in the early 1980s, Lavoine scored a major hit with, ‘Elle a les yeux revolver'(‘She has revolver gun eyes’), and then hooked up with cult 1980s band singer, Catherine Ringer, for a duet on, ‘Qu’est-ce que tu es belle’ (‘How beautiful you are’). That romantic theme continued on a well received album from 1989, ‘Les amours du dimanche’ (‘Sunday loves’).

A recently acclaimed incursion into novel territory with his first book, ‘The man who lies’, which is a tribute to his father, became a best seller in 2016 and attracted a wider audience still. Not surprisingly for someone who has a theatrical background, poetic influences are not far from the surface and, ‘Elle est beau comme Rimbaud’, has a strong poetic quality, and for those with knowledge of French grammar, the title has been deliberately changed to the masculine adjective in order to rhyme with the poet’s name. If the voice is now well-worn, and may be an acquired taste to some as are the avowedly sentimental lyrics, then Lavoine at least compensates by deploying on occasion other, softer voices. In particular, that of his daughter is utilised here, and now a singer in her own right, Roman Lavoine, works well with her father as part of a harmony duo on the introspective lyrics to, ‘Le temps perdu’, Another duet is with a singer-songwriter familiar to these columns, Benjamin Biolay, and that duo, ‘Un chagrin n’arrive jamais seul (Alléluia)’ (A regret never happens on its own (Hallelujah)’, is the song that ends the album as a whole on an emotional high.

Now in his fifties, Marc Lavoine is enjoying a new lease of life in his professional career with acting roles in television series, and the thirty-two page CD-hardback book version is testimony to his love of both poetry, with Louis Aragon quoted, and photographic imagery.

Tim Stenhouse