Michel Françoise - Dévolution
Talkin’ bout a devolution
At the end of the 80s, in the middle of ‘Cabrelmania’, to which I yielded too, I took an interest in people who were gravitating towards the star. And especially this young man, whose style came from nowhere, his hair flattened against his temple, whose electric guitars re-established rock legitimacy in French chanson, and above all whose intelligent, meticulous, astute lyrics were full of imagery enough made me get my bearings and deluged the thirsty teenager I was then. "Un Jour", "Je me Jette à l'Eau", "Me Laisse pas Tomber", "Comme Tout l'Monde", "Changer d'Allure"... I was marked by so many of his tracks.
Alas I must have been the only one or so (?) For, despite good reviews, despite an appearence in a popular TV show, and although "C'est Écrit", which he composed, became one of the biggest hits of Francis Cabrel, hiw own singer career never took off. Maybe the shadow of the man from Astaffort was too big. This phenomenon sometimes occurs.
Now, after having produced albums for others (Souad Massi, Daguerre, Cabrel), he releases his 8th album yet.
Titled Dévolution. A legal word linked to inheritance. But you can also see it as the contrary of a (r)evolution, for according to him “humankind starts its descent” ("La Descente").
With a heart in a skull on the sleeve... Like a way to urge you to think with your heart?
If the set is pleasant to listen to, my happy reunion with him was sealed with this song exactly: "Retrouvailles". O riff. O little wonder of an alternation of rhymes in -o and rhymes in -y.
Without a doubt, you’ve got here someone who knows how to write songs. He mentions the exercise from the start, "Écrire", in one breath. Same topic as "J'Écris" from Ben Mazué.
A description of human condition in the form of heterogeneous inventory follows ("Dévolutions's Song") which sets the tone to the rest. “I’ve solved lots of mysteries / but I don’t understand well / all the damage I did / and still do for no reason”
Note an indictment for failure to assist a planet in danger, directed at all men of power ("Sous Vos Yeux").
Except many guests, he works with his family: with his son Tom on drums (and sometimes his daughter Lucille), Michel being modestly credited for "other instruments". Understand electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, bouzouki, percussions… To top it off, the imagery is from his nephew Yannick Françoise.
Set back since a long time in Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne, a few hundred yards from Astaffort), the man who self-defines as a “craftsperson in music mechanics” observes from far away the city-dwellers living the wrong way round ("À l'Envers") and sinking in folly each day even more.
Despite this very good album, let’s bet he’ll keep on taking a backseat. No Françoisemania on the horizon.
You can easily imagine these songs sung by the author "La Corrida", for their styles are very similar. Yet Michel’s music is all the same a bit more lively, on one hand. And leaves room to instrumental developments giving some length, on the other hand. Up to 6 or 7 minutes sometimes ("Dévolutions's Song", "Caravane", "Sous Vos Yeux"), that favours long solos of guest musicians (sax, trumpet or bugle, Hispanic guitar). And that sounds good.
From "La Descente", I love so much the instrumentation, the sound effects, that I’d have liked the atmosphere to linger beyond its 3:16. But maybe the descent of humankind will be short?
2 'bonus' tracks were added after the instrumental piece which had to be the logical conclusion logique of the opus ("Crepusculum"). As they show the same quality as the rest, you won’t complain, unless their positions 11 and 12 could be regretted.
“Il se peut que l'amour détache quelques chaînes” ("Quelque Chose à Venir")