We thought we knew Lou Doillon, but there was more to her. As she says in all simplicity, "I had every reason in the world not to go into music." So throughout her career as a young actress and international model, the daughter of Jacques Doillon and Jane Birkin was holding back a part of herself: the singer.
Lou had secretly been playing guitar and writing songs in English, her "private language," for years. Without the presence of Etienne Daho, an insatiable music-lover and fond tutor, she would probably never have made the leap into the unknown. So the release of her first album, Places, has come as a relief for Lou Doillon and marked the start of her new career. Its title is a double reference: to the place she can now take on the musical chessboard, and to her personal journey.
The album was originally released in Europe on September 3rd, 2012 via Universal France, and quickly achieved critical praise. It achieved double platinum status in France, where Lou also won the French Grammy for "Female Artist of the Year." The chanteuse will make her US debut with the release of Places on June 18th, 2013 via Verve Records.
"Before, Lou was between two worlds – fashion and movies. With this album, I think she’s finally found her world," observes Zdar, the man with the silver hands (Phoenix, The Rapture, Beastie Boys, Cat Power, etc.) who mixed the record in his Paris studio. "There was a kind of lunar conjunction between Etienne Daho and Lou Doillon," he adds, summing up the amazing, improbable album. As we listen, we are reminded of great artists past and present: Karen Dalton, Joni Mitchell, Feist and others. "Lou seems more of a soul than a rock singer to me," says Daho, whose production and dazzling arrangements on Places are his finest yet.
The first single off the album ‘Devil or Angel,’ an immediate classic, is an emotionally revealing song showcasing Lou’s effortless storytelling ability. The album continues to showcase Lou’s unique voice and timbre. ‘ICU,’ the opening track to the collection, is a revelation with haunting vocals, compelling melody and twilight ambience. Describing days of melancholy passing at the pace of a drum roll, ‘One Day After Another’ is reminiscent of Patti Smith’s narrative art, while ‘Make A Sound’s’ pop immediacy holds a reference to its writer’s "leaded wings." Much like Cat Power, Lou Doillon is equally at home with an acoustic range (the iridescent clearing in the middle of the album: Same Old Game) and brass-backed soul (Jealousy and Questions And Answers – two visas for Memphis). These livelier tunes also heighten the depth of her startlingly flexible voice.
The strongly autobiographical lyrics reveal years of transience, a troubled personality and a rebellious nature. "I cope with my great weakness as a woman, and to do so, I insist on a masculine approach," said Doillon. "In fact, the whole album is dedicated to men." Tracks such as ‘Same Old Game’ have a cathartic value for the singer, who is fascinated by the writing of Leonard Cohen and Lhasa’s work.
We thought we knew her, but in just forty minutes, Lou Doillon turns things upside down, and has metamorphosed into a matchless singer-songwriter.