Gaëtan Roussel ‘Orpailleur’ (Blue Wrasse) 4/5

gaetan-rousselFormerly lead singer with late 1990s rock group Louise Attaque that scored the largest number of debut albums sold by any French group, Gaëtan Roussel then formed a new group TaRMac before going solo with the 2009 album ‘Ginger’. This was a critical success that placed Roussel firmly in the historical tradition of chanson française and this in turn invited comparisons with a latter day Brel, though Alain Bashung might be a more accurate parallel and Roussel has indeed collaborated with him. Three years on and the second solo album has met with both major critical and commercial success and for the outsider looking provides a fascinating insight into the French chanson in the twenty-first century. That means not being averse to subtle electronica accompaniment as and when required, though it should be stated that the album is more of a return to rock style. In fact the repertoire is extremely diverse with the melodic opener ‘La simplicité’ reminiscent of Lousi Chédid while there is flirting with reggae rhythms on ‘Par dessus tes épaules’ and a folk flavour to ‘Hum Hum Hum’. Two songs that have been especially popular in France are ‘Poésie’ and ‘La Barbarie’ and both impress with their lyricism. For a touch of something earthier, ‘Matrice’ hints at punk. What this potential French album of the year proves is that Gaëtan Roussel is now a singer to be reckoned with in his own right. Tim Stenhouse