Charlotte Gainsbourg – Stage Whisper

by C. Schiff

Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of French pop musician Serge Gainsbourg, is best known as an indie actress. However, her new album, Stage Whisper shows once again that she can hold her own musically. Stage Whisper is a follow-up album to her well-received 2010 release, IRM.

Stage Whisper is half live performances and half previously unreleased material from her IRMsessions. The live tracks, which come from both 5:55 and IRM don’t sound much different from the studio tracks. In a play, a performer has to say the same lines and do the same movements night after night. Deviation is viewed as unprofessional. It seems that Gainsbourg infuses her live musical performances with this same goal. Since their sound matches so closely to her studio tracks, the live performance element of this album feels superfluous. However, the previously unreleased material on this album is strong enough to stand without the live tracks.

Charlotte Gainsbourg did a great deal of work with Beck during her IRM sessions. He wrote the first four tracks of Stage Whisper and his touch is evident. While Beck’s solo work can sometimes lack focus, Gainsbourg brings a precision to his songs. The first Beck penned track on the album, “Terrible Angels” has an electro-pop feel reminiscent of Goldfrapp. This track is upbeat, danceable, and contrasts with the more reflective songs on the album. “All The Rain,” another Beck track, evokes the same sense of loneliness as the more mellow songs on Beck’sMutations. The smooth instrumentals of this piece lend themselves well to the melancholic lyrics. Gainsbourg also successfully delves into a retro-folk feel on the track “Memoir.” The simple acoustic guitar riffs pair perfectly with Gainsbourg’s understated voice. Like “All The Rain,” this track evokes a sense of sad reflection.

Though this album doesn’t contain any new work, the previously unreleased tracks make it well worth a listen. Stage Whisper is another eclectic and beautiful album from Charlotte Gainsbourg. Hopefully, Gainsbourg’s film career doesn’t take too much attention away from making more music in the future.