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The Birth of Cornelius

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Album Review

After releasing two platinum French-language albums that were heavily influenced by his family's murder at the hands of a Rwandan death squad, neo-soul singer Corneille realized he was "becoming a symbol for something, a persona." On the Rwandan-Canadian artist's first English-language album, feelings of despair and the search for peace are once again touched upon, but when the provocative title "Murder" leads to a breezy, almost Swing Out Sister song that uses homicide as a metaphor for breaking up, there's little doubt the "persona" is shaken. Save a couple autobiographical lines found in "A Man of This World" and "Heaven," plus the heart-wrenching genocide commentary that's "I'll Never Call You Home Again," the singer/songwriter's connection to the past here is mostly neo-soul, influenced by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and others Corneille has declared were his father's favorites. Dad was also a Tracy Chapman fan and that figures into the mix, and judging by the humble acoustic soul that fuels key track "Too Much of Everything," some Bill Withers records must have been in the collection. Work in a modern John Legend-styled croon plus string arrangements from MFSB alum Larry Gold and you've got the sound, but the reason to fall for Corneille is his unique comfortable and conversational lyrics. Unfortunately, this self-produced album sounds a tad too bright and the great "I'll Never Call You Home Again" is way too heavy to be anything but a closing number. Still, returning fans will find Corneille's evolution remarkable, while all the newcomers will get a rich and rewarding soul-folk experience. [An 11-track edition was also released.]

Customer Reviews

I Love Corneille

I have been looking for this album! Corneille's lyrics and voice are beauty and I definitely appreciate hearing them in english. Thank you! I noticed that two tracks are missing: "The One" and "Spending on You". Hopefully Itunes will include those songs, as well.

Not too bad

If you are into Neo Soul, music with a good rhythm and good lyrics, this will deliver. Sound lyrics and nice rhythm are features within the first few tracks, whereas towards the end the songs are slightly flat; however, they are still a good listen.

nice to hear someone sing about love and mean it for a change....

This is a very good album. Good voice, meaning lyrics, and soulful live production. If you are a soul or hip-hop soul fan, this is definately worth several listens. "Sweet Dependency" and "Back to Life" are joints you want to play with the signifcant other. There are several other quality slow jams as well. I hope dude gets his due.


Born: March 24, 1977 in Freiburg, Germany

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

French-Canadian R&B singer Corneille translated personal tragedy into pop music success with his 2003 debut LP, Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin, a powerful and often harrowing song cycle inspired by his family's murder at the hands of a Rwandan death squad. Born Corneille Nyungura in Freiburg, Germany, on March 24, 1977, he was born into a Rwandan family completing an overseas study program. He nevertheless spent the majority of his childhood in Africa, absorbing native musical traditions as well as the...
Full Bio
The Birth of Cornelius, Corneille
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Customer Ratings