Friday, 24 November 2017

A few words about Charlotte Gainsbourg: Rest

A week after its release, I thought it worth reflecting on Charlotte Gainsbourg's new album Rest.

It's probably the best release of her career so far, and I'm a huge fan of her previous work.

Gainsbourg always faces a couple of major critical hurdles. The first is that she's the daughter of two of France's most famous and critically respected artists. Serge and Jane are both pretty large figures to be measured against. It's difficult for any artist who's the progeny of a famous parent to get the respect they perhaps deserve in their own right.

Perhaps Charlotte's success in cinema has helped her break this perception. I think Serge Gainsbourg  wanted to be a bigger figure in cinema than he managed to be. The films he directed remain an interesting footnote to his biography despite his success with soundtracks and title songs and Charlotte's success showed her excelling in a field that her father only had limited success.

Meanwhile, she was up against the regular sexism that all too many female artists face. The success of her earlier work was too frequently credited to her male collaborators. See how many articles discussing her career mention Beck, Air or Jarvis Cocker.

The new album features production credits by SebastiAn, as well as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from Daft Punk and a songwriting credit from Paul McCartney, but none of these dominate the work that she stages. They set the scene, and it's as classy a production as you could hope to come across.

But it's Charlotte who really shines here. It's the work of a mature artist, confronting real life issues with poetry and grace and probably one of the finest works to emerge in 2017.

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