French director Jacques Demy coined the phrase "cinéma enchanté"--or cinema of joy--to describe the films he made in the 1960s. Even today, exquisite, fantasy-rich confections like Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg have the power to hypnotize with their colorful mix of Hollywood musicals and fairy tales.
For her second solo album, comely chanteuse Marina Celeste borrows Demy's phrase to aptly describe a baker's dozen of songs pulled from French cinema of the 60s and early 70s.
Marina has a soft, girlish voice tinged with both innocence and melancholy, the ideal instrument to convey the sweeping, romantic melodies of composers such as Legrand, Sarde, Aznavour, Lai and Gainsbourg.
On the opener "Samba Saravah" (from the classic film Un Homme et Une Femme), Marina sounds like she's strolling alone through a park, humming the sweet, yearning melody to herself. This kind of charm and guilelessness blows like an April breeze through songs like "Amour Amour" (from Demy's Peau D'ane), "13 Jours En France" (from the film of the same name), "Manon" (from Manon 70), and "Sidonie" (from Vie Privée). There are more overcast moments too, such as "Un Aller Simple," "Les Aventuriers," and "Sans Toi," the soaring, heart-stopping song Michel Legrand wrote for Agnes Varda's Cléo From 5 to 7.
Celeste is produced by her Nouvelle Vague bandmate Marc Collin, who surrounds her with bossa nova grooves and a buoyant instrumental palette full of acoustic guitars, flutes, accordions, strings and natural sounds such as birdsong, crickets and rain.
As a celebration of the soundtracks of New Wave-era French cinema, Marina Celeste has made a near perfect primer that will surely lead listeners back to the original soundtracks.
Prepare to be enchanté.
• Bill DeMain