Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Feb. 21, 2003
Christine AlbertTexaFrance-Encore! (MoonHouse) When South by Southwest was held at the Hyatt, Christine Albert once landed a showcase in the hotel's atrium bar, an acoustically wretched space cavernously rising 17 floors to the top of the building. Yet hearing Albert singing "La Vie en Rose" from the 15th floor was as memorable as any conference moment this writer recalls. Her voice floated, the song's lyrical beauty free and dancing in the ether. The Edith Piaf tune was from Albert's 1992 TexaFrance album, a project loved enough that she's returned for an encore, literally. TexaFrance-Encore! reprises Albert's affection for her French-Swiss roots, this time with partner Chris Gage producing and playing with an eclectic collection of musicians so well suited they should play together all the time. A dozen tracks continue the TF legacy, Encore being an organically pleasing mix of cabaret-style tunes from the traditional ("Plaisir D'amour," "J'attendrai") to contemporary (Rickie Lee Jones' funky "Jolie Jolie," Daniel Lanois' "Under a Stormy Sky"). Albert's at her best with popular tunes like the familiar "Sous le Ciel de Paris/Under Paris Skies," as her pretty voice lilts between French and English. Her Piaf tributes are the most heartfelt: "La Vieux Piano," "C'est Peut-Etre Ca," and the saucy "La Foule," a duet with Albert and Gage doing what they do second best. It's no coincidence this album came out around Valentine's Day, because its beauty is not just in the music, but in its sheer romantic atmosphere, the kind you need no partner to enjoy.