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BELINDA CARLISLE’s Voila, her first new album in a decade and her first sung entirely in French, is a sultry, soulful collection that delivers eleven classics from renowned French songsmiths, including Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Brel, and Edith Piaf.
While Carlisle continues to be involved with and tour with the Go-Gos, she has reinvented herself as a polished adult pop singer. Heaven On Earth (1988), her second solo album, made her a worldwide pop star with “Heaven is a Place on Earth” hitting the No. 1 spot in countries all over the planet, while “I Get Weak” and “Circle in the Sand” both went Top 10. Runaway Horses (1989) established Carlisle as a presence on the British and Australian music scenes and included the George Harrison collaboration “Leave A Light On.”
Her 1996 offering, A Woman And A Man, contained a collaboration with Brian Wilson and spawned three UK hits – “In Too Deep,” “Always Breaking My Heart,” and “Love In The Key Of C.” “I sang backup on a few of Brian’s solo albums,” Carlisle recalls. “When he came into the studio to work on my album and started layering up his vocal parts, it brought tears to my eyes. It was like watching Mozart at work.”
In 1999, A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits was released. It featured three new Carlisle tracks and sold 900,000 units in the UK alone. In 2003, Carlisle’s solo U.S. tour was a great success.
Voila (2007) may seem like a radical departure for the pop diva and much-loved Go-Go, but it’s Carlisle’s loving homage to the country that’s been her spiritual home for more than a decade. “People may be a bit shocked,” Carlisle admits. “Surprised that it’s all French and at the range of the vocal styles and the songs I chose, but I had no interest in making another pop album. I knew if I was ever going to do another record, I wanted to do something challenging. As I became familiar with French music, I came to love it. It’s deeper emotionally and a lot more poetic; the lyrics aren’t as literal as they are in American pop. When I began deciphering ‘Avec Le Temps,’ I saw how it could mean a lot of different things. There are nuances to every phrase; the language is very rich.”
Carlisle says the album is the culmination of a long investigation into French music, the result of years spent “listening, reading, buying CDs, and researching. I’d go to record stores and spend hours finding music I liked. I listen to French radio, where they play the classic chansons, and over the course of the last year and a half, I began selecting songs with strong melodies and lyrics I could relate to.”