A Casual Ramble About Ne Pas Trop Rester Bleue by Laure Briard

Have you ever watched the show Emily in Paris?

It’s ostensibly about a young woman, named Emily, residing in Paris with a Breakfast at Tiffany’s title and a cultivated corporate appeal. Not to be a downer, but it’s too late: already judged the cover. I ask not because I’m a fan of the show, but because I am a fan of the music with which they chose to soundtrack it.

I have been to Paris multiple times, and while the smell of dogshit and cigarettes has acquired a personal appeal to nostalgia, I’m not sure if Emily in Paris speaks to that sentiment.

The show’s choice of Laure Briard, however, does speak to sentiment for an era that no longer exists. Her latest album, Ne pas trop rester bleue saunters from sixties popular music, through the speaker, to the eardrum, into the brain and finally down to the heart.

That’s the usual path, anyways.

Hi there! This is Ben, writer/editor/manager/whatever of the Casual Ramble. I appreciate you being here. I generally try to avoid marketing myself and I don’t like paywalling content. That’s why most of this website, if not all, is free. However, I always appreciate a helping hand for my Patreon so I can keep doing it. Click the link below to support my writing. If not, enjoy it all the same!

Like a stroll along the Seine or a balcony view to the Boulevard St. Germain-des-Prés, the album engages in aural tourism of passing musical eras. One among them being the Paris of 1975, the year France Gall released her eponymous debut.

It’s still France after the Mai 68 protests, but it’s also a France with the last drops of juice from the “Trente Glorieuses” years of economic growth to substitute for the charm of La Belle Epoque before the First World War.

In other words, there’s a gilt coat to this vision of Paris as much as there is for New York in ‘72, the year Carole King released her seminal Tapestry.

Like Carole King’s Tapestry, there’s a certain sobriety to Laure Briard’s music.

Not the kind that a dopefiend or sexhound might experience between fixes, but an emotional denouement all the same. A come-down from the brief apogée of a Golden Age. Briard’s Golden Age is one of love, and regardless of joy or despair, the French chanteuse uses songwriting as a salve to experience.

To be sure, every artist uses their art to make sense of the world they perceive. For an artist like Laure Briard, everything from the choice of instrument or collaborator to the cadence of voice or the subject of lyrical matter to the employment of melodic, rhythmic or harmonic devices crafts this perception into numinous form.

This is not to say her music invokes supernal humor. No, like her chief inspirations in King and Gall, Ne pas trop rester bleue functions as a more folksy country take on her musical explorations into French yéyé and Brazilian jazz.

The album an emotional center built around an “inevitable” heartbreak at Joshua Tree. But the music never descends into a Tom Waits malaise. Instead, the title song is sprightly, featuring a piano bursting with Brill Building splendor, supported by choir vocals, an assortment of synthesizers, a stamping Wurlitzer and a brass section.

Altogether, it’s the most succinct pop-rock moment on the record, as if posing the question: “what good can come from a glass-half-empty perspective when it’s time to move on?”

Now that certainly sounds like a dumper’s perspective more than that of the dumped, but one can understand her willingness to move on: the creative must create, and Briard is just committed to not making a faff about it.

Besides, the real key to this record is not Carole King and the descendant sounds of Burt Bacharach’s Brill Building or France Gall’s post-Yéyé France.

They may be key to enjoying the overtly spry and plucky moments, but Briard and collaborators Julien Gasc and Vincent Guyot supply them with counterpart pieces. All of these are brimming with a musicality drawn from her experiences recording Bossa Nova-inspired EPs with the Boogarins, Coração Louco and Eu Voo.

There’s a fusion that becomes less and less centered in that João Gilberto/Antonio Carlos Jobim scene and more common with the Clube da Esquina of São Pãolo. Think Milton Nascimento, Lô Borges and Arthur Verocai.

For “Lady Adventurer,” “Not Evil,” and “Me Pardonner,” Briard imbues her voice with an angelique softness reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto, mixing together the worlds of São Pãolo, New York and Paris.

The sly “Lady Adventurer” even evokes a sixties sleuther soundtrack, not unlike some of Kit Sebastian’s recent work.

Laure Briard © Diane Sagnier

For “My love is right,” the innocuous first half dotes on the power of pastiche with choirs, Gasc’s thickset bass tone and Raphael Leger’s marching drumwork. This all melts away for the code, powered by Hedi Bensalem’s flute. Each note transmutes the song from pastiche power into a worldly jazz treat.

“Au diable le coeur arraché” also employs this two-part songwriting. It continues the treats with a blissful two-minute-and-thirty-seconds of piano from Gasc, during which comes a syncopating organ and Briard striking a vocal balance somewhere between Gall and Gilberto. The organ holds a last note pulled tight like a tension wire before the sustain dissipates, then all hell breaks loose.

Crashing synths, twisting brass and shrieking guitars erupt in cacophony, each key or string pressed to its absolute limit. Finally, they give to silence.

[Side note: if one listens to this record on repeat, there’s almost no moment for silence as the opener picks right up without missing a beat. I call this the “Valerie” effect, so named for Steve Winwood’s classic song. For “The smell of your hair,” however, the twee piano provides a punchline to the effect of a dog shaking itself awake from a cacophonous nightmare.]

While I hesitate to say pastiche and dissonance are the best moments on the record, they are the moments that best exemplify the artistic lengths of Briard’s object. And there are plenty of playful keys and bells to fulfill a more easy-going appetite.

What results is an album measuring just under 30 minutes, using every possible second to present a jampacked vision of “France Gall and Carole King do Brazil.” It transitions seamlessly between all three parties and harnesses each. It’s a much stronger album among Briard’s oeuvre than those past.

As much as comparisons have dotted these impressions, it should be said: no one else is crossing over between these musical styles like her.

Nostalgia-land TV soundtracks be damned.

Ne Pas Trop Rester Bleue – Laure Briard

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Midnight Special

Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Clube da Esquina, Pop Rock

Release: February 10th, 2023


  1. “The smell of your hair
  2. “Ne pas trop rester bleue”
  3. “Lady adventurer”
  4. “Sur mes joues rosées”
  5. “Not evil”
  6. “My love is right”
  7. “Magical cowboy”
  8. “Me pardonner”
  9. “Ciel mer azur”
  10. “Au diable le coeur arraché”

Patrons get early access to all columns and reviews, as well as exclusive one-month early access to my short stories and poems, a private discord server and other benefits!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About BenJamsToo

An insane man moonlighting as a respectable member of society from Portland, Oregon. A rock ‘n’ roller since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” Ben is a lover of all things rock, soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like: most gangsta rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Once upon a time, a friend told him to write about music. So he started doing that under the title of a Willie Bobo cover by Santana. Now he wonders about what Stu McKenzie has for breakfast, why John Congleton is the best damn record producer this side of the millennium and just how Common came to be his favourite hip-hop star. He’s been working on that last one for nearly a decade now. No answers yet.