Manon Brunet, |
(Les Disques Mega, 2002)
Queen Size is, if my French is up to scratch, a remix of Manon Brunet's first record, originally produced in 1996 (T'as qu'ˆ m'suivre) -- the same disc and 12 songs, but a different treatment for the Quebecoise singer. Manon herself has a queen-size voice, and her talents extend to songwriting, too. She sings in French, even though some titles are in English, and there is the odd line in English -- it would probably help if I understood French well enough to appreciate the lyrics; they are written in the cover, and do not appear to be unimaginatively repetitive.
The opening track is mainly instrumental, with some vocalization, but no lyrics; one of the shortest on the album, it is not a strong opener and does not grab your attention, but is balanced, like a musical bookend, by the closing number. The second track gradually picks up speed and strength, but is a long time building to its choral-backed finale. Manon has a pleasant voice, occasionally exhibiting a Bonnie Tyler-like gravel and sandpaper consistency, but overall presenting a smoother approach. With the tones of Alison Moyet, the fire of Tina Turner and her own personal flair, her dramatic approach works equally well between ballads or blues, adapting easily to a soft, slow song or a gutsy, gospel rock beat. She holds her own with vocal confidence against some mean hard-rock guitar and yet the next track has her slithering seductively around the sliding guitar and methodical bass of the blues.
At the back of the cover, there is a pageful of acknowledgments to the competent musicians accompanying her, along with thanks to the People's Gospel Choir of Montreal and the Ministere de la Culture du Quebec. Manon Brunet has a sound that grows in appeal, and if you can get past the first couple of tracks to the point where she really lets rip with the full power and passion of her considerable voice, you are well rewarded.
It is probably bordering sacrilege to suggest it, but I'm sure she would reap the benefits of a broader appeal if she also sang in English -- worthwhile listening though Queen Size is. She exhibits an independence of style and strength of voice that would never fit into the artificial plasticity of the popular charts, but would have the more mature, discerning buyer reaching for her next CD as soon as it appeared.