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Mon paradis

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Album Review

The initial fame Christophe Maé garnered in 2005-2006 as an actor in the musical Le Roi Soleil, where he played Philippe, the brother of Louis XIV, was trumped by his subsequent venture into the French pop scene as a folk-pop singer/songwriter/guitarist. Though not technically his full-length solo debut album (that would be a more or less impossible to find independently released album called Sa Danse Donne), Mon Paradis was the first of his albums heard on a mass scale, and it proved tremendously popular, becoming the second best-selling French album of 2007 and spawning a series of hit singles, including the chart-topping lead single, "On S'Attache." Maé is graced with a uniquely signature singing voice and an easygoing lilt in common with one of his most often cited influences, Bob Marley. These two characteristics above all others define Mon Paradis and are showcased best on "On S'Attache," the aforementioned album opener. Thankfully, the material that follows (co-written by Maé with the help of Michel Domisseck, Lionel Florence, Bruno Dandrimont, Jeff Oricelli, Olivier Schulteis, Pascal Obispo, and Jacquot) is uniformly excellent, especially the first quarter of the album, including "Mon Paradis," "Belle Demoiselle," and "Parce Qu'on Sait Jamais" as well as "On S'Attache." Sequenced midway through the album is another highlight, "C'est Ma Terre," a perfectly crafted pop song that opens with a little beatboxing before unfolding with backing vocals and a singalong chorus. Though four different writers are credited with penning "C'est Ma Terre," it doesn't sound overwrought. If anything, it sounds fine-tuned, as if Maé wrote the song himself and then sought input from a few of his hired hands, incorporating the finishing touches until he had a polished gem. Most of the latter half of Mon Paradis is credited solely to Maé, and while it's true these songs aren't as captivating as the earlier sequenced hit singles, the self-penned songs that fill much of the latter half of the album are impressive nonetheless. So while there's no doubt Maé is a capable songwriter, not only is he willing to collaborate with hired hands; it seems as if he benefits from the outside input. The production touches of Volodia benefit Maé as well. An industry veteran with a long track record of success, Volodia gives the stripped-down folk-pop of Maé a thoroughly modern sheen, adding little touches (e.g., the opening beatbox of "C'est Ma Terre," the hand percussion of "Spleen," lots of multi-tracked vocals) so that each song of Mon Paradis sounds unique and dynamic. Indeed, Maé is the rare folk-pop singer/songwriter/guitarist who can crash the gates and obtain commercial success internationally in the iPod age without forsaking any of his craftsmanship. It helps, of course, that Maé was able to build upon the initial fame he garnered in Le Roi Soleil, but there's no question Mon Paradis is the work of a talented young man who works well with others.


Born: 16 October 1975 in Carpentras, France

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

French folk-pop singer Christophe Maé first earned widespread notice as an actor, co-starring in the smash stage musical Le Roi Soleil. Born October 16, 1975, in Carpentras, Maé was the son of an amateur jazz musician. He began studying violin at age six, and a decade later added guitar and harmonica (the latter in tribute to Stevie Wonder, an enormous influence over his subsequent musical direction). After several years playing clubs and cabarets in the south of France, Maé relocated to Paris,...
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Mon paradis, Christophe Maé
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