Daniel Darc and Frédéric Lo
Coeur Sacré - un hommage de Frédéric Lo à Daniel Darc
I have spent many hours poring over the lyrics of the great Daniel Darc, trying to translate them from their original French to English. Even though I hardly understood a word I knew that, from the delivery, the person singing had many, many tales to tell. I also knew that, even without a translator, very few of those tales seemed to be happy ones. Darc, as the posthumous documentary 'Pieces of My Life' showed, was a complex character who succumbed to excesses, and was outspoken but highly sensitive too.
I first heard Darc way back in the late 80s on the album he made with Bill Pritchard ('Parce Qué'), then traced his story back to the post-punk delights of his days with Taxi Girl, waited through a mostly absent 90s until he resurfaced early this millennium, having been dragged out of his wilderness and away from his immense demons with some help from composer, producer and co-writer and, one imagines, friend Frédéric Lo. Amongst the records they made together, I would single out the dark thoughts and elegant arrangements of the album 'Crèvecouer' (2004)are some of the finest and most fragile pieces Darc was involved in. Several of the songs on that album have been reinterpreted on this heartfelt tribute album.
Darc died ten years ago, at the tragically young age of 53. To commemorate this sad anniversary, Lo has assembled a fine cast of artists to cover some of Darc's finest songs. Étienne Daho, Jane Birkin, Jean Jacques Burnel, Bill Pritchard, and Pete Doherty are amongst the vocalists working with Lo on these new recordings.
Daho's refined take on Taxi Girl's 'Je Suis Deja Parti' is striking whilst Bill Pritchard's English reading of 'Je Me Souviens, Je Me Rappelle' ('I Remember Oh So Well') is a gently delivered tale of succumbing to someone's deception. Another English song 'Without Use & All Used Up' shows Pete Doherty in his most reflective mood (now a resident in France, he's also recorded an album with Lo), whilst Stupeflip brings their hip hop stylings to Taxi Girl's 'Paris' - it's a joy. The only misfire may be 'La Plui Qui Tombe' which despite Lo's hypnotic new arrangement is somehow undermined by Jean-Jacques Burnel's low murmuring.
In addition to the many great cover versions, there is also a new song 'Couer Sacré' - and although we've probably all had our fill of rediscovered recordings by dead songwriters that have been worked up into something new, this is actually rather special (even though the intro does remind me of 'Betty Davis Eyes').
But most touching of all is the album's closer 'Jamais Jamais' - a desolate recording of one of Darc's most haunting lyrics. Like the final works of Leonard Cohen, it is unnervingly intimate.
'Couer Sacré' will act as a reminder of the great work of a brave and troubled artist. It has been created and assembled with such love for Darc, a love that you can hear in the various voices paying tribute. And if you happen to be unaware of Darc's songwriting, this is a magnificent introduction.