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CHRISTINE ALBERT - PARIS, TEXAFRANCE    

Folkwax - by Arthur Wood   May 14, 2008
The Piaf-Inspired Journey Continues

Christine Albert's ancestors on her mother's side can be traced back to France and Switzerland, so it's hardly a stretch to conclude that Albert should be influenced by the music of la belle France. While Marion Cotillard's recent (critical, commercial, and professionally) successful portrayal of the Paris songbird Edith Piaf in the film La Vie En Rose has regenerated interest in Piaf's music and that of her contemporaries, Albert's musical journey began over a decade and a half ago with TexaFrance, was reprised five years back with TexaFrance - Encore! and continues apace with (the subtly titled) Paris, TexaFrance. Born in Rome - the one in upstate New York - Albert has been an Austin, Texas, resident for over two and a half decades. Relative to Spanish and British colonists, the French were not major contributors to Texas history and culture. That said, my reason for stating subtly a few sentences back is that, there is of course a Paris, Texas (located north east of the Dallas/Fort Worth conurbation), while in 1984 Wim Wenders directed a movie of the same name...and, of course, there was Lily, Albert's maternal grandmother, who loved living in Paris.

With eleven lyrics performed in French and/or English, Albert launches her third Gallic excursion in the foregoing language with the happy-go-lucky "Swing Troubadour," penned by singer-songwriter Charles Trenet (and his frequent collaborator Leon Chauliac). Trenet was at his prime from the 1930s through the 1950s, a period when Piaf also enjoyed commercial success at home and abroad and on this collection Albert covers her "Chante-Moi" ("I Sing"), "Don't Cry" ("C'est D'la Faute A Tes Yeux"), and closes the collection with "Hymne a L'amour" ("Hymn To Love"). Piaf penned the lyrics to many of the songs she performed and "Chante-Moi" - recently discovered by Albert - dates from 1951, while "Don't Cry" is one year younger. "Hymn To Love" also dates from 1950 and is a tribute to Piaf's married lover and world middleweight boxing champion Marcel Cerdan who perished in October 1949 while flying from Paris to New York City to visit Piaf.

Paris, Texafrance also finds Albert interpreting more recent compositions by non-French composers. MoonHouse labelmate Michael Austin wrote "When You're Away" with Roy Eisenstein and included it on his 2004 album Thick 'N Thin. Translated into French by Albert, it appears here as "Quand T'es Ailleurs." Jesse Winchester's "L'Air De la Louisiane" has been covered by Jimmy Buffett and first surfaced on the former's 1974 album Learn To Love It. Talking of previous cover versions, Art Garfunkel, Anne Murray, Bette Midler, and the late Nicolette Larson cut Adam Mitchell's "French Waltz." [See Note] Albert was introduced to the song via Larson's 1978 rendition. Such is Albert's deep affection for the number that in the accompanying press release she unequivocally states "I heard this in the '70s and it felt like 'my' song."

Produced by Albert's husband, Chris Gage (guitars, piano, accordion), the local pickers on Paris, Texafrance include upright bass player David Carroll, drummer/percussionist Paul Pearcy, and mandolinist Paul Glasse. Albert apart, Glasse has contributed to all three collections, while I guess Edith Piaf remains Albert's constant and unwavering inspiration. Bravo.