Even if you don’t speak or understand a lick of French, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Livia Blanc’s debut EP Amour Amour will still find ways to enthrall you by the end of its five tracks. Right away Blanc establishes her penchant for coyly meandering chamber-pop with the EP’s titular track “Amour Amour”; singing almost entirely in her native French, the song curls itself warmly around every one of her lush enunciations. “Chocolat Café Passion” ups the ante a bit with a darting medley filled with pattering percussiveness, glowing guitar lines, and a few sublime brass intonations, as Blanc manages to once again transcend any language barrier–whilst also leaving the sweet aromatics of her Parisian inspirations hanging in the air–with something as simple as the tender romanticism of chocolate coffee.
Yet, for all the playful lightness of its first two songs, the EP dives into a deep melancholy with, “Mr Hyde,” a track that tumbles forward on a wave of bottomless drum rolls. In the album’s second act, Blanc really reaches a depth of emotional sincerity that tears and gnaws at you–and one she couldn’t have touched on had she not been singing in French. There’s just a particular way the language assuages and accentuates even those lower pitches her voice drops into, rolling sublimely alongside every percussion gallop. On “Black Orpheus,” a hailing of the French film of the same name, Blanc delves even further into her somber natures with a lilting piano ballad. We probably sound like a broken record by now, but once again Blanc has us wrapped around her finger with every sly twist and drop in her voice.
The EP’s finale, a woeful little ditty titled “It’s Over Isn’t It” is a gorgeous culmination of all the previous songs’ affections. It’s no doubt she had this beautiful scene from French cinema in mind while penning the song, and while we sadly have yet to take a deep-dive into such films, Blanc’s pained words paint an outline that is easy to fill with your own moments of dreamy nostalgia. For us at least, it has all the gleefully bittersweet emotionality of that “As Time Goes By” scene from Casablanca, but really the song could capture the emotional interlude from any film from the 40s-60s. It’s also a deliriously poignant goodbye (to lovers and album listeners alike), ornamentally cinematic in its piano-twinkling grandeur and one that showcases really for the first moment on the EP Blanc’s vocal acrobatics in English. She has a voice that would’ve made her a star singing for the French-English cinema had she been born half-a-century ago, while today she brings with her a fog of old-world blues that she comes spinning and twirling out of through the delicate assertions of every croon.
There’s a halting wonder to Blanc that is impossible to miss throughout the EP’s playthrough, not just in her tenacity for immersing listeners seamlessly into her multi-lingual/cultural world but in the atmosphere itself, which she creates effortlessly with every song. Quietly affecting yet brimming with passion, Blanc’s presence on Amour Amour is an unforgettable one, the kind whose melodies and words get stuck somewhere between your ear and soul and never seem to break loose.
“The songs that makeup Amour Amour EP are written like a collection of love letters, spoken from the heart with sincerity. Love hurts and we have all been there. This EP tells the story of the end of a relationship and is in itself the end of a chapter. The last track, ‘It’s Over Isn’t It’ is the perfect way to close out the EP and this first chapter,” Blanc said of the debut.
Blanc will be performing at the movie release party of “In Reality,” directed by Ann Lupo and starring Kimiko Glenn of Orange is the New Black fame, on August 1 in Peconic, NY. She’ll be touring Europe in August with performances in New York in September and has plans for hitting the west coast in November. Visit her website and Facebook to stay updated on future releases and tour announcements.