With the aid of a good French-English dictionary, I managed to make sense of all the songs except one not written by Hardy, Normandia, which flummoxed me:
‘the salty water of the shore reddens the ocean…’ (Really?) ‘Spring pours the bitter language taught to girls at school, where one loves, marches or dies...’ (Eh? Isn’t march or die the motto of the French Foreign Legion?) ‘Oh weep, my foolish heart, I write to you with the grass and the wind…’ (Ok, I give up)
After concluding that my French simply wasn’t up to it, I was reassured to come across a French critic who found the lyrics of Normandia ‘ambiguous’ and ‘obscure’. Phew! Maybe I’m not so thick after all.
I liked the other songs a lot. They are clever and inventive and more varied melodically than her previous album La Pluie sans Parapluie. All in all, it’s an intriguing album, sung beautifully throughout by Hardy, whose voice at 68 is still sultry and beguiling, while the anguish of unrequited love that pervades many of the songs is tempered with dark humour and gentle self-mockery. It’s interesting to compare this mature album with Ma jeunesse fout le camp, where the 23-year-old (!!) Hardy lamented her lost youth.