M ‘IL’ (Blue Wrasse) 4/5

Singer-songwriters who can also plays several instruments are thin on the ground and in the case of French music, relatively uncommon. All the more reason to appreciate the sound of young musician M, better known as Matthieu Chédid (son of singer Louis Chédid). If contemporary grooves that take on board the influences of Prince and even Jimi Hendrix are your bag, then this slice of twenty-first century music may well appeal. M has steadily built up a devoted audience across the Channel with previous albums such as the live ‘Saisons de passage’ and ‘Un monstre à Paris’ both selling around 150,000 copies. That number doubled with ‘Mister Mystère’ and the latest album is set to be both a commercial and critical success. In typical creative French fashion, the new album plays upon the phonic resemblance between Chédid’s first name and the places one dreams of. His music features inventive arrangements that are sometimes experimental in nature, with poetic and lyrical songwriting hinting strongly at a mature sound. Key songs include the softer sounding ‘Laisse aller’ which hints at ther soulful side of Prince while arguably the most compelling number of all is ‘Baïa’ which has a Middle Eastern guitar intro that leads into a mid-paced flamenco-latin piece that has definite single potential. In contrast there is some retro retreading of the jazz manouche tradition on ‘La maison de Saraaï’ that hints at a change of musical environment in the future. So convincing is the sound that Chédid may do well to devote an entire project ot this style which would attract a whole new audience while adding to the existing one. For fans of rockier sounds, look no further than ‘La grosse bombe’ which is a homage of sorts to one of Chédid’s idols, Jimi Hendrix. Matthieu Chédid is a well rounded musician who is capable of performing in a variety of styles and doing so in a totally convincing manner. He is unquestionably one of the singers to look out for in furthering the already honourable French chanson tradition, but does so in a thoroughly modern fashion.

Tim Stenhouse