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Miss Météores

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Album Review

In Miss Meteores, Olivia Ruiz's third album, the young French songwriter seems more in control than ever of her artistic persona, and clearly cherishing every bit of her liberation from the shadow of her Star Academy fame. For starters, she wrote all the lyrics for her new album, as well as co-writing most of the music with longtime partner Mathias Malzieu. Ruiz enthusiastically tries her hand at everything in Miss Meteores, verging from French chanson to hard rock, or from blues to calypso and folk, as well as singing in three languages and featuring several guests from all across the board: Austrian folk outfit Lonely Drifter Karen, rapper Toan, French rock group Coming Soon, Christian Olivier from Têtes Raides, the Noisettes, and even members of her own family. For all of this diversity, songs share a certain similarity. They are all around three minutes long, and most boast a fairly traditional structure of verse/chorus. A very keen interest in sonic texture is what separates this material from similar pop endeavors (including previous Ruiz albums), one that seems to take most of its cues from the musical universe of Tom Waits or Vinicio Capossela. Indeed, regardless of the musical genre of choice, instrumentation remains similar in its penchant for a drunken carnival feel, full of twinkling pianos, staccato patterns, horns, and all sorts of oscillating percussion and other noises, such as the screeching door sounds in the Tim Burton-esque lullaby "Peur du Noir." Of course, what keeps everything together is Ruiz' vocals and lyrics, although her range and perspective do not always seem well-suited for so many stylistic twists and turns. There is something slightly jarring about Ruiz's voice that gives her every song a rather acerbic edge. Her irony works perfectly when writing character studies of neurotic types (very much in sync with traditional modes of French chanson, albeit in a contemporary and feminine guise), such as the singles "Elle Panique" and "Les Crêpes aux Champignons." By the same token, it is hard for such a voice to denote tenderness, so her love songs are not as convincing — and neither are some of the album's experiments, such as Ruiz's impersonation of a blues singer in "Spit the Devil," or her misguided attempts to sing in Spanish. Not coincidentally, the best moments of this album happen when either Ruiz sticks to her forte, or in the duets, when her one-dimensional voice is balanced by her guests ("Eight O'Clock," "When the Night Comes"). It may not succeed at every turn, but Miss Meteores certainly witnesses Ruiz growing by leaps and bounds, aided by first-rate production and arrangements.


Born: 01 January 1980 in Carcassonne, France

Genre: French Pop

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

Folk-punk chanteuse Olivia Ruiz vaulted to stardom in her native France with the 2003 release of her debut LP, J'aime Pas l'Amour. Born January 1, 1980, in Carcassonne, she was the daughter of musician Didier Blanc, making her professional debut at 12 with the Médiévales troupe and at 15 co-founding the rock group Five. After earning a degree in communications from the University of Montpellier, Ruiz auditioned for the inaugural series of the French television amateur showcase Star Academy. Despite...
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Miss Météores, Olivia Ruiz
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