No Promises-Carla Bruni

nopromisesNo Promises

Carla Bruni

2007

Naive

When one thinks of a former model turned singer, expectations may be rather low.  However, when it comes to Carla Bruni, this is hardly the case at all.  The Italian native/French naturalized  Bruni has quite the resume: singer, songwriter, former model, heiress to the CEAT fortune, and wife of French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.  In 2007, Bruni released her second album, No Promises; this was also her first English album. Although the lyrics are not her own, rather the songs are created from the works of deceased poets, this album provides an interesting take on music and poetry married in such a peculiar way, it can only be right.

“Those Dancing Days are Gone,” a poem by W.B. Yeats, opens the album.  The song is played, mostly, without percussion, and mainly with the short choppy strokes of an acoustic guitar.  The strumming, persistent palm muting of the guitar give Bruni the rhythm she needs to deliver the lyrics.  Her vocal range often hits low keys, yet its very fitting for this poem.  Bruni’s voice is soft like a whisper, perhaps a bit like Norah Jones, but delivers so well.  She has a unique sound that ties this album together.

“Before the World Was Made,” yet another W.B. Yeats poem (Yeats makes quite a few appearances on this album), holds a more tranquil tone than its predecessor.  Bruni’s adaptation of this poem is done with great accord to the emotion Yeats delivers with his words.

“Lady Weeping at the Crossroads,” is a poem by W.H. Auden.  Bruni delivers this poem/song with an optimistic yet longing tone.  Again, the interpretation Auden’s poetry.  She uses acoustic guitars and minimal percussion, once more.  Adding to Auden’s original poem, she uses repetition of certain lines for the sake of song.  All in all, this recreation is pulled off successfully.

“I Felt My Life With Both My Hands,” a poem by Emily Dickinson, is performed by Bruni now with electric guitars.  However, to follow suit with the rest of the album there is no distortion on the guitars.  In order to accomodate the poem’s shortness in length, Bruni repeats the verses in their entirety making the song longer.

“Promises Like Pie-Crust,” a poem by Christina Rosetti, is perhaps the inspiration for the title of Carla Bruni’s album with Bruni’s repetition of the line, “Promise me no promises.”  Unlike the other shorter poems, Bruni only repeats the last verse of the poem, emphasizing the meaning of the work.

“Autumn,” a poem by Walter de la Mare, is also known by the title, “November.”  This is another song in which Bruni repeats the verses to bestow the listener not only a longer song, but a change in tone of the poem.  With each repetition, the song changes its key.  The original poet’s despondency due to the death of a child, can be felt through this interpretation by Bruni.

“If You Were Coming in Fall,” another poem by Emily Dickinson, is the seventh track on the album.  Bruni experiments with a different sound for this song.  The original poem is about a woman in waiting for her lover for quite a bit of time.  The progression of the stanzas in the poem go hand in hand; time of their separation grows-showing the fickleness of certainty and uncertainty of the author about her lover and when she will see him next.  Our singer conveys this in the proper fashion, giving the song the same effect Dickinson was going for.

“I Went to Heaven,” is the last Emily Dickinson song to appear on the album.  The slow tempo emits a tranquil mood for the song.  Deeper meanings lie beneath the surface of Dickinson’s poetry.  Bruni is the vessel whom opens the gateway of discovery for these meanings.

“Afternoon,” an adaptation of the poem by Dorothy Parker, is performed in a catchy way by Bruni.  The songs offers more electric guitars, with clean distortion of course.  A poem about aging; content most are concerned with in life.

“Ballade at Thirty-Five,” yet another poem by Dorothy Parker.  This song, like others on the album, experiment with different sounds and instruments.  Like the song that precedes it, this song is done in an upbeat fashion.

“At Last the Secret is Out,” retreats back to a poem by W.H. Auden for the album’s final song.  Carla Bruni breaks the stanzas up in a different manner in order to create a different rhythm for the poem to be transferred into song form.  By creating a new rhythm, the poem may adopt a new meaning.  Thus, referring back to Bruni’s own interpretation of the poem.

The greatest thing about poetry is the idea that the reader has the opportunity to make their own emotional connection to the words on the page.  Drawing the emotions you feel from the words you read and then molding them into a musical form is only taking interpretation one step further; inviting others to understand the connection you felt to the poet.  Perhaps the reason this album exclusively features deceased poets is to pay homage to them and their work, or maybe there is a metaphorical reason behind Bruni’s selections.  Over all the idea of this album is exceptionally clever.  The album is in no way overwhelming, rather it offers a tranquil tone for its listeners.  Carla Bruni is quite the artist, she really delivers with this album. Grab a book, a cup of tea, your favorite chair, and put this album on.

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One Response to “No Promises-Carla Bruni”

  1. […] Stereo Control will be updating by its regular schedule.  Thank you to Kristen for her article on Carla Bruni’s No Promises.  Anyway, time for some more orange […]

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