Blanchard’s Debut LP Is A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Cumbancha Music Publishing

Courtesy: Vis-a-vis

Francesca Blanchard is not the most well-known name in the music industry today. But the French-born singer-songwriter is no stranger to the music industry. She has been writing music ever since her childhood. And in 2011, she released her very first recording, Songs on an Ovation. The record, a six-song EP, was released via Emote Records. Now a little more than four years after its release Blanchard will finally release her debut full-length studio recording for American audiences. The aptly titled Deux Visions will be released Friday, October 2nd via Vis-a-vis. Deux Visions is such an aptly titled record because Blanchard presents both her French and American roots throughout the course of the album’s twelve total songs. She sings half of those songs in English and the other half in French. In doing so she is able to reach not just her French-speaking listeners but her American listeners, too. This is just one element of the album worth noting. In direct correlation to her dual vocal approach, the lyrics to each of her songs have been printed in the album’s companion booklet side by side in both French and English, too. Not only does this mean that she will reach both audiences even more but that she will also guarantee keeping her listeners engaged. She and her label made sure to not leave out anyone. And being that this record is her debut full-length recording that is an especially good choice. Having noted her dual approach to her debut album, the next logical element to examine in this record is the combined musical and lyrical content of her album in whole. That material in question is notable because it stands out from so much music from her more well-known pop counterparts. It stands out because it switches seemingly from song to song. And even the lyrical content of each of the album’s songs boasts its own depth in comparison to that of other female artists. The combination of that standout musical and lyrical content set alongside the previously noted albums leads Deux Visions to prove itself one more of the year’s best new world music albums.

The official release date of Francesca Blanchard’s debut album Deux Visions is still roughly five weeks out at the time of this review. Even being so far out from its release it can still be said of her new album that it is one of the best of this year’s new world music field. It proves this in more ways than can be noted in one sitting. So this critic will focus on just a few ways in which it proves itself so impressive beginning with her performance of the album’s twelve total songs. Blanchard, who is French by birth but currently lives in Vermont, splits the album’s tracks right down the middle, singing half of the songs in French and half in English. She is not the only bi-lingual artist to use this approach. Colombian pop star Shakira uses a similar approach as do the men of Los Lonely Boys, kindie rock act Future Hits and others. While the approach that she takes is not exactly new, it does not make it any less important. That is because as with the albums released by the previous artists and acts, it shows an attention to detail so as to not alienate one listener base or another. What’s more, some of the aforementioned acts (and others) don’t always balance the linguistic approach on their albums as much as she has here. In many cases, the foreign language performances seem to take precedence over the English-language tracks. Though, it can be said that Future Hits come close as they go through their album Today is Forever first in Spanish and then repeat each song in English. While Blanchard’s approach isn’t quite at that level, the equal balance of French and English performances rather than a random slathering of French and English presentations ensures that audiences of both English and French backgrounds will be able to equally enjoy her new album so to speak. That is a solid foundation for her debut record. And it is just one level of that foundation, too. The presentation of the album’s songs both in English and French within the album’s booklet strengthens that foundation even more.

Francesca Blanchard’s balanced, dual-language approach on her debut album Deux Visions makes for a solid foundation for this first effort. It is not the only element that allows this album to sit so strongly, either. Each of the album’s songs are printed both in English and French in the album’s companion booklet. This means for French audiences whose abilities with English might not be so strong will still be able to enjoy it just as much as those English-speaking listeners whose abilities with French are just as weak. Some might read this and ask why this would be so important. The answer here is simple. It is important because especially today, not every group, band, or act includes lyrics with their albums. That can easily lead to misinterpretation of lyrics in many cases. In the case of a foreign language record, not having lyrics greatly diminishes the interest that those not familiar with the album’s linguistic approach might have in the album. What’s more even those albums that do include lyrics are not always guaranteed to include translated lyrics for those not fluent with the featured artist’s/group’s/band’s language. It does not necessarily have to mean English, either. It can be any language. In the case of this album it just so happens that Blanchard has seen to it along with Vis-a-vis that the songs’ lyrics were printed in both French and English. This means that those English audiences not familiar the French language will be able to understand the lyrics to each song just as much as French audiences not familiar with English. What this means is that Blanchard’s French and English audiences alike will be able to take in her debut album in whole without worrying about missing out on any of it. Simply put, everybody is at the same level in listening to this record as a result. This takes the foundation established by Blanchard in her performances that much stronger. It is not the last element of the album’s success, either. The overall musical and lyrical content of Blanchard’s album sits atop the foundation set by her approach to the album’s songs and their presentation both on record and in writing in two languages.

Both Blanchard’s dual-language approach to her new album both on record and in writing do plenty to make it an impressive first effort from the talented, young artist. For all of their importance to the overall structure of this record, the actual content of the album in regards to its musical and lyrical content is just as important to its whole. In regards to both elements, Blanchard manages quite well to stand out from so many of her more well-known counterparts. Listening to the album’s musical content, the first comparison that this critic came up with was to Mazzy Star. That is at least in songs such as ‘Mon Ange,’ and ‘Rame.’ At other points, listeners can hear hints of Vanessa Carlton (at least in her vocal delivery style), Norah Jones (both vocally and stylistically) and others. The combination of such comparisons in regards to both Blanchard’s own vocal delivery style and the overall stylistic approach to her album’s songs shows its ability to hold its own against said artists. The same can be said of the album’s lyrical content. Each of the songs present lyrical content that can be best described as being deeply personal and just as moving. ‘Rame,’ the album’s opener is just one example of how the album’s lyrical content helps the album to hold its own both in the underground realm and against more well-known mainstream acts. Blanchard presents a subject that is in a very dark place. Yet being in such a dark place, her subject still holds out hope, singing that “All is not lost/No/All is not lost. In the case of this song, Blanchard uses the metaphor of a person out at sea in a sinking boat. Despite the situation looking hopeless, her subject receives a sign of hope; a sign that everything will be okay. It is definitely an interesting approach to the topic of maintaining hope and even a partially optimistic outlook on things in those dark times. ‘Le Blues’ is another good example of how the record’s lyrical content helps it to stand out. Blanchard writes in this song of how the blues make her happy. What is interesting about this is that she is not necessarily referring directly to the blues that many might think. She refers seemingly to the different shades of blue in the world as well as the blues as a musical style. The gentle tones of the song’s piano line and the song’s overall somewhat jazzy style accent those lyrics so well. The combination of her play on words and the song’s musical content makes this song yet another prime example of why Deux Visions lives up to its title. ‘Papa…Pere’ is one more example of how the lyrical content of Deux Visions makes it such an original, standout recording for Blanchard. This deeply emotional piece presents Blanchard’s subject apparently singing to her father. It is inferred as she sings, “I looked up at the sky/And I said your name/Papa…Father/Where are you/And that’s when I saw you/Your star/Dancing across the sky/Flying over the atmosphere’s horizon/And just like that you heard me/And you came to me/Papa.” This is just one small portion of the song’s lyrical content. But it is a strong example of why this song helps to make the album in whole stand out. Those lyrics (and the rest of the song’s lyrics) alongside its gentle musical backing will move to tears every person that hears it. Any person that is not so moved is either heartless or not human. It is just one more example of how the combination of Deux Visions’ lyrical and musical content together serves to make it a standout recording both against music produced by Blanchard’s more well-known counterparts and for herself. Together with the presentation of its songs in both French and English both musically and on paper, all three elements show without argument why Deux Visions is a solid start for Blanchard and why it is also one of the best of this year’s new world music records.

Deux Visions is an impressive first full-length effort from Francesca Blanchard. The twelve-song record presents its songs both in French and English both on record and in print. The combined musical and lyrical content of the album’s songs add even more to the album’s benefit. All three elements combined, they prove that this record is just as enjoyable for audiences as those released by her more well-known counterparts in the mainstream pop and rock worlds. Being such a strong effort, the album in whole also goes to show that it is without argument one of the best of this year’s new World Music records so far. It will be available Friday, October 2nd and can be ordered direct via Blanchard’s official bandcamp website at http://francescablanchard.bandcamp.com/. It can also be pre-ordered via that website now. More information on Deux Visions is available online now along with all of Blanchard’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.francescablanchard.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/francescablanchardmusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cheskablanch

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Dream A Little Is A Big Dream Come True For Fans Of Family Friendly Music

Courtesy:  Nathalia Palis

Courtesy: Nathalia Palis

The world of children’s music is one of the greatest within the music universe in whole. The reason being that children’s music proves time and again to actually be more creative and original than that created for grown-ups. Whereas music for adults is easily pigeonholed into given categories, children’s music runs the board from one act to the next. This applies both musically and lyrically. Last year’s crop of new children’s releases more than proves that. Acts both signed and unsigned helped to make that case. And one of the unsigned acts that proved that is independent children’s entertainer Nathalia Palis. Palis released her second independent, full length release Dream a Little late last year as most critics were finishing off their annual year-ender lists. It still managed to make this critic’s list of the year’s list of the best new chidlren’s releases. Dream a Little made this critic’s 2014 year-ender list of the best new children’s albums. And hopefully it made other critics’ lists. It is deserving of such credit not just because of its Latin-infused music but for the mix of fun and positive messages presented throughout the record. The dance-style song ‘Shine’ is one of the best examples of how Palis’ mix of upbeat music and positive lyrics makes Dream A Little so enjoyable. The positive message presented in ‘There’s No One Like You’ is another wonderful mix of fun music and positive lyrics that the whole family will love. So will any animal lover and pet owner out there. For all of the fun music and positive lyrics that Nathalia Palis offers her audiences, she also offers some pieces that are just plain fun, too as is evidenced in the Halloween-themed ‘Shake Them Bones.’ Palis presents an eerie and fun composition in this work that will have listeners of all ages laughing and singing along happily. And it is hardly the last of the songs on this record that make it so enjoyable for families. The other seven songs that make up Dream A Little are each just as enjoyable in their own right. Together with the songs noted here, all ten prove why Dream A Little Dream is one more great addition to 2014’s slate of children’s albums. They also prove collectively why Nathalia Paliis is just as deserving of a record deal as any other major name in the realm of children’s music.

Nathalia Palis has built quite a name for herself within the world of children’s music ever since the release of her 2012 debut album From Here to There. Now on her second full length release Dream a Little Palis has no doubt broadened that audience even more. The ten-track album was released independently. But it is just as enjoyable as anything released by the bigger names in the world of children’s music. And that is proven through Palis’ mix of Latin-infused music and broad swath of lyrical topics. From the album’s interstellar opener about the planets to its gentle closer ‘Sueno Feliz’ which translates roughly to “sleep happy,” every song on this album presents plenty of reason for audiences to enjoy this album. One of the key examples of how that mix of music and lyrics makes Dream A Little so enjoyable is the dance-style ‘Shine.’ It is the anchor for Dream A Little. The song’s dancable musical backing will have audiences of all ages on their feet from the very first note. Its lyrical side will leave just as much of a smile on any listener’s face. That’s because it sends a message promoting self confidence that will resonate with audiences of any age. She sings, “There comes a time when we aren’t so sure/Left with a feeling that’s insecure/Isn’t it funny hwo we hide what we want to share/Afraid that no one cares/It’s ok cause we’re one in the same/From different places/and with different names/With hearts that beat like a drum/Let the rhythm take us to a place where/You can be you/I can be me/We can be anything we want to be…Just be true to your heart.” This is a great message for younger audiences. It is just as important for adults believe it or not. There are just as many adults who suffer from depression and self-doubt every day across this nation. And something as simple as this song could make waves in the lives of those people, too. It really serves to show the wide-ranging impact that this song could and hopefully does have on audiencs. That positive and far-reaching impact coupled with the song’s catchy, danceable beats shows without a shadow ofa doubt why ‘Shine’ is the anchor to Dream a Little. And it is just one example of what makes Dream a Little a dream come true for any parent and child.

The danceable beats that serve as the backing to ‘Shine’ couple with the song’s positive beats to make this song the highest of points on Dream a Little. While the song’s title is mainly in reference to a person shining from their own self confidence. Interestingly enough, the mix of the song’s music and its wonderfully moving lyrics make the song shine within itself. It shows exactly why ‘Shine’ is the highest of points on Palis’ new album. It isn’t the only of the album’s high points, though as is evidenced in the album’s penultimate production ‘There’s No One Like You.’ This song is one to which any animal lover and pet owner will relate and enjoy. The song is told from the stand point of a child who is happily singing to his or her own canine friend, telling said four-legged friend what a great pal the dog is to him or her. The very fact that the song could be sung by a boy or girl is within itself a big reason that the song is so enjoyable. Its story of a child’s friendship with his or her furry friend makes it even more fun for the whole family. The story presented by Palis in this song will take any grown up on a fond trip down memory lane and will make any family without a pet want to adopt a new family member. Palis is quite convincing as she sings, “I remember when I first brought you here/Told you I’d love you and always keep near/So small and scared you were at your new place/I held you tight until you slobbered my face.” Who out there doesn’t remember that first wet, sloppy kiss from their canine friend that said from them, “I love you?” Again, the musical backing set against this happy memory will put a smile on any listener’s face. It only gets better from here as Palis sings, “I never thought you’d be/So very good to me/Always greeting me so cheerfully/You’re always by my side/When it’s rain or shine/It’s true/There’s no one else like you.” There really is no one like man’s (and woman’s) best friend. Unlike people we so often mistakenly call our human friends, we know that the friendship of that animal friend will never waver. That friend wil never talk junk about us behind our backs. She has hit the nail on the head here. And she continues to do so as she sings about the child’s dog being a great pillow, and a great playtime companion both playingoutside and sleeping at night. As upbeat and celebratory as these lyrics and music are collectively, they are still sure to bring a smile and a tear to any grown-up’s eye while putting the biggest smile in the world on the face of any child. It is yet another piece from Dream a Little that makes this album truly a dream come true. It still isn’t the last example of why this album is so enjoyable, either. The Halloween-themed ‘Shake Them Bones’ is one more of so many songs on this album that make it so enjoyable.

Nathalia Palis offers her audiences plenty of smiles throughout the course of the ten songs that make up Dream A Little. ‘Shine’ will have audiences of all ages smiling and dancing happily with its mix of upbeat music and equally upbeat, positive lyrics. ‘No One Like You’ will have any listener smiling and wanting their own canine companion. It may even leave some older audiences with a happy tear-inducing nostalgia. For all of the positive messages and upbeat music spread across Dream a Little, Palis also offers some songs that are just plain fun, too. One of the most enjoyable of those songs is the Halloween-themed ‘Shake Them Bones.’ Palis uses a jazzy musical backing for this song. She opens it with the sound of thunder and the howl of a wolf far off in the distance to set the mood. That mood isn’t too dark for younger listeners, either. Rather, it is made even more fun set against that jazzy musical backing. Just as with the other noted songs, this one will have listeners on their feet just as quickly. It would be no surprise if Palis has her audiences singing along with her, too as she sings, “Stomp and turn just like I do/Shake them bones all through and through/Oh we can’t stop now/Keep on stompin’/It’s lots of fun/Stomp and turn just like I do/Shake them bones all through and through/And just what happens when the music stops/Them bones fall down.” It’s a great tune for audiences of all ages and yet another example of why Dream a Little is a dream come true.

‘Shake Them Bones,’ ‘No One Like You,’ and ‘Shine’ are all exceptional songs within themselves. Together, they comprise just a portion of what makes Dream A Little such an enjoyable work independent release or not. There are plenty of other examples of why the album is so enjoyable in the full on celebratory ‘Pop, Pop, Pop,’ the musical rocket ride that opens the album in ‘Los Planetos’ and a piece in ‘El Amazonas’ that instantly conjures thoughts of Shakira, believe it or not. That isn’t to take away from the album’s remaining four tracks. Those tracks combined with all of the others noted here show once and for all why Dream a Little is a giant dream come true. It is available now and can be purchased online via Nathalia’s own website at http://www.nathaliamusic.com/buy.html. Audiences can keep up with all of the latest news and live dates from Nathalia online at:

Website: http://www.nathaliamusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nathaliapalismusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nathaliapalismusic

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertianment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.