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After a six-year hiatus, one of France's most iconic female vocalists returns with album number 24. Personne d'autre, for the most part, is an intimate album filled with hushed vocals and sparse accompaniment. It's a sombre affair and a far cry from her up beat 60s Ye Ye days. Of course, that era was short-lived, and her subsequent reinvention as an exponent of chanson drew acclaim from Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and led Hardy to work with Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg. The maturity of her work from this time has continued ever since. Like Piaf, the tone of Hardy's voice is both wonderfully seductive and weltschmerz at the same time: something that is enhanced by singing in her native language.

A cover of Michel Berger's Seras-tu là? with its haunting pseudo-classical piano adds to the brooding nature of the album. Translated as Will You Be There? the longing of the lyrics is more than palpable in Hardy's subdued vocal. The soft shuffle of Quel Dommage replete with oboe and piano gives the track a suitable vintage feel. One of most reflective songs is Un Seul Geste, which is executed with Hardy's heartbreaking turn of phrase. You're My Home, the only English language track, is a romantic and honest look at real love; it's relaxed, effortless and once more delivered with Hardy's beautiful vocal expression. Train Special's dynamic arrangement is a little unexpected considering the softer piano-based tracks we have encountered up to this point. As the album draws to a close, fuller arrangements crop up again including the country influenced Trois petits tours. Personne d'autre is a delicate album that plays with the fragility of human emotions in the way that only French chanson can.

Groupie Rating 4/5

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