Bastien Lucas - Essai
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Bastien Lucas
Le Roseau (

Singer/pianist Lucas continues the tradition of French art song that stretches back hundreds of years. Co-produced with Gabriel Yacoub (who also guests on guitar, mandolin, and autoharp), this delicately crafted CD has all the intricacy and elegance of a Swiss watch. Complex little string and wind arrangements support Lucas’ pensive songs, delivered in his light, quiet tenor voice with an insouciant Gallic shrug. At its best, the release sounds like good contemporary chamber music. At its worst, it sounds like bad Sting.

On a couple of mildly rocked-up tracks, the touches of slide guitar and lite-rock drums just make it sound like everyone’s trying too hard. "Sans rancune," for example, a song based on Robert Schumann’s "Ich grolle nicht," oozes a little too facilely off the disc with its acoustic slide guitar and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies. Lucas is at his best when he stays within a more neo-classical realm, where the arrangements enhance rather than impede the words. Small gems like "Absent," with its plucky strings and angular winds, and the moody "Je viens vers toi," with its restless piano chords, show a deeper understanding of texture and sonority and how these elements work in the service of the song. Though it is uneven, there is enough here to delight and intrigue the listener. - Peggy Latkovich

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Available from cdRoots


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