The folks at Putumayo World Music love France and ever so often, the label releases a delightful compilation of French music, ranging from nostalgic fare to contemporary folk-pop performed on acoustic instruments. Vintage France features nostalgic French music from the 1950s and 60s or the Post War Generation music performed by contemporary artists. Chansons about love mingle with gypsy jazz rhythms and swirly accordion wafts through the air like a summer breeze. It’s the kind of music you would expect to hear at touristy cafe and what many people imagine when they think of Paris--debonaire male vocals and restrained Parisian women who's vocals barely raise above a whisper. However, there is also hearty female vocals.
The songs hang together, but a few famous ones stand out such as Martijn Luttmer’s instrumental cover of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg from the 1960s movie starring Catherine Deneuve and Serge Gainsbourg’s La Javanaise performed by Madeleine Peyroux (who is an American jazz crooner with a convincing French accent and diction). Listeners who enjoy swing will enjoy Daniel Roure’s Les Baleines Bleues, Norbert Slama Trio’s Nany (which is actually Parisian cafe music), Raphaël Bas’ Confessin’ (slow swing), Jean-Claude Laudat’s Cloviswing and Philippe Gautier’s Mènilmontant. However, I choose Francesca Blanchard’s ballad Sous le Ciel de Paris which reminds me of a traditional Quebecois ballad. The strong melody and moody vocals sound quintessential French to my American ears.