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Album Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest

2 min read

Rest is the fifth studio album by Charlotte Gainsbourg and the first one for which the British-French singer and actress wrote the lyrics herself. Rest is a journey into Charlotte’s emotions and personality. It involves grief, loss of the loved ones (her sister and her father) and childhood memories. In this record Charlotte sings both in French and English, alternating from an intimate and deep style to a more vibrant sound. Rest is characterised by several collaborations, from Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Daft Punk) and SebastiAn to Sir Paul McCartney.

Lying with You vividly represents a particular event of Charlotte’s life, the death of her father (Serge Gainsbourg) in 1991. The French soft and profound vocals are contrasted by the English parts and the electro vibes.

Kate and Rest are both open dialogues to Charlotte’s sister (Kate Barry), who died in 2013. In the album’s title track, Charlotte asks to her sister to not leave: in fact, Rest in French means “to stay”, while in English it refers to death.

Apart from writing Songbird in A Cage, Sir Paul McCartney played the piano, guitar and bass too. This song particularly stands out from the others for two factors: its sound and the fact that it’s not personal.

Throughout the entire album, especially in Lying with You, Dans vois airs, Les crocodiles and Les oxalis, the allusions to Charlotte’s childhood are brought to life from the music, which, in some points, reminds of horror music soundtracks. In fact, Charlotte declared that watching horror movies at a young age marked her. These elements add up to an emotional level, providing a sense of instability, nearly discomfort and grief.

Rest is an extremely personal album whose soft vocals create an intimate experience for the listener. Rest’s sound, with disco and electro beats, contrasts with the addressed themes and Charlotte’s previous works. This record is certainly an evolution for Charlotte as an artist, both in terms of genre and song writing. To really appreciate and understand this album, multiple listens are required.