Feel like a night at the theatre? Good! Put the tux, tie, plunging neckline slinky dress, high heels, top hat, and monocle back in the closet, pour a couple glasses of cabernet, turn the lights down, and sit back while putting Raquel Bitton's Rhythm of the Heart in the player, 'cause she just got off the road from a sold-out tour of her Raquel Bitton Sings Piaf—Her Story, Her Songs, from which a PBS docu-concert has been drawn, and now graces one and all with this tribute to the legendary Tino Rossi, who sold—good Lord, is this right?!?!—yep, over 600 million records, not to mention recording 1200 songs. Yow, goodbye Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson! When did the guy ever get a chance to sleep?
Fronting a 20-piece orchestra and an Afro-Cuban band, Bitton strolls through a dozen tangos, boleros, merengues, cha chas, bossas, and more, singing entirely in French and Spanish (the transcriptions and translations of each cut are included in a 19-page booklet three times each: French, Spanish, and English!), Forgive Me a particularly intriguing set of lyrics. Bonjour Tristesse, though, is my sonic pick of the litter. There's something about it, a je ne sais quoi, something that belongs to my parents' generation, something that's since gone missing—no, not in the spoken middle section but in the entablature of the singing itself, that gets to parts of the heart left previously untouched.
Ah, but then, during Tango Melodie, you're going to feel like indulging some Apache dancing as well, but hold back (here's why:
'cause this is a love disc, not a psychotic break, and you'll ruin the mood, not to mention a hipbone or two. There is, though, always a certain élan present, even in the closing laconic Tout Bleu (So Blue), which manages a regal hauteur as it slides across the slo mo dance floor, eyes cast down but gait steady. The entirety of Rhythm of the Heart, in fact, is a cabaret path back to a time of Copa Cabanas, Rudy Valentinos, and Maurice Chevaliers that somehow manages to breathe new life within the jet age. Them Frenchies even had a maxim for it—Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose!—but, for us, 'Everything old is new again!' will do just as well.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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