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Album Review

Calogero collaborated with some of France's finest pop/rock songwriters for his fifth album, L'Embellie. While he had done this on his breakthrough album, Calogero (2002), and its chart-topping follow-up, 3 (2004), neither of those albums included a cast of songwriters as luminous as this album's, namely Dominique A, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Grand Corps Malade, Pierre Lapointe, Marc Lavoine, Dick Annegarn, Kent, and Calogero's brother and longtime collaborator, Gioacchino Maurici. The choice to work with an assortment of songwriters is a significant difference between L'Embellie and Calogero's previous album, Pomme C (2007), which was written entirely by Zazie. The broad range of lyrical material showcased throughout L'Embellie makes it an entertaining listen from beginning to end. Many of the songs are emotionally moving (for instance, "C'Est Dit," a song about the value of friendship) and at times melancholic and amusing (for instance, "La Bourgeoisie des Sensations," about a man who can't stand for his woman's affair with another woman). Calogero also penned lyrics himself for the standout song "Je Me Suis Trompé." L'Embellie is impressive not only in terms of lyrics but also vocals and musical arrangements. Calogero, more than anything, is a remarkable vocalist. As emotional as some of these songs are from a lyrical standpoint, it's Calogero's impassioned delivery that makes them moving, and he similarly has a gift for melody, finding it in each of these songs despite not having written them himself. The musical arrangements on L'Embellie differ somewhat from past efforts in that they're heavy on string arrangements and acoustic instruments (piano as well as strings). Electric guitar cuts through the arrangements from time to time such as on the chorus of "L'Ombre et la Lumière," but the instrument is used more sparingly than in the past, likewise the fuzztone bass riff that drives "Je Me Suis Trompé." Moreover, the urban styles showcased in the past on songs such as the 2004 smash hit "Face à la Mer," Calogero's collaboration with rapper Passi, are noticeably absent. Right away, the album-opening song "La Fin de la Fin du Monde," sets the tone of the album stylistically, with Calogero's vocals soaring amid swirling string arrangements while acoustic piano and marching-band drums pound away rhythmically beneath. Following this dramatic album opening, L'Embellie unveils a few of its biggest highlights, each of them aforementioned: the lead single "C'Est Dit"; "L'Ombre et la Lumière," a duet with Grand Corps Malade; and "Je Me Suis Trompé." The proceedings slow down a bit later on as songs like "Tu Es Fait Pour Voler" play up the orchestral aspects of the album, though thankfully a couple dynamic rockers ("Passage des Cyclones," "L'Embellie") pop up now and then to give the listener a jolt and conclude L'Embellie on a lively note.


Born: 30 July 1971 in Grenoble, France

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A fixture of the French pop scene beginning in the mid-'80s, Calogero enjoyed success as a member of the trio Les Charts and as a composer-for-hire before finally mounting a solo career in 2000. Born Calogero Maurici in Grenoble on July 30, 1971, he studied the flute as a child, later mastering guitar, piano, and bass as well. With brother Giaocchino and childhood friend Francis Maggiulli, he co-founded Les Charts in 1986. A chance encounter with French pop legend France Gall proved instrumental...
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L'embellie, Calogero
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