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Jamie-Lee Smit - Mon Amour Monique

Jamie-Lee Smit - CD Review
Mon Amour Monique

Mon Amour Monique




CD Info
Epictronic / Titan Lab
10 tracks
French, English lyrics


Jamie-Lee has been around for a while, especially given that she’s only in her early 20s. The Belgian chanteuse has worked with Skeptical Minds, Sad Siberia, Aedden and is front woman for Belgian Gothic band Azylya. This is her first foray into solo material and it takes her in some new directions, not a lot of Gothic with this one, certainly softer than the sound we got with the masterful Sweet Cerebral Destruction, one of the darkest releases I’ve had the privilege of covering. This one is tabbed as a mixture of Indie Rock and New Wave which could, of course, cover a lot of territory. It’s written, composed and produced by Riccardo Daga. Lyrics are in both French and English. In my limited association with Jamie-Lee, I get the feeling she’s much more comfortable communicating in French but most of her singing has been in English so she’s more than adequate with both. The music is not something I’d classify as traditional metal although there are clearly metal elements to be heard. And Jamie-Lee’s vocals are different than what we’ve heard with previous releases, probably more pronounced and wide ranging in style than what we got with the more heavily metal oriented past material. I’m guessing she’s looking at expanding her listening audience here, this is the kind of music that would seem to be more in line with what we hear on popular radio music outlets on the continent. That’s not to say there aren’t components that tend to reflect a Gothic perspective, there are, they just aren’t as consistent as what we get with, say, Azylya. You’d clearly have to expect that the material is aimed at a broader range of listeners, and Jamie-Lee’s not the first Gothic singer to look at this approach, there have been many. Jamie-Lee explained the transformation:

“Voici comment je suis passée si vite d’un album métal à un album solo indie rock. Notre label Wormholedeath qui nous a signés pour AZYLYA, était entrain de construire un nouveau Label, Epictronic, pour des styles différents du métal. J’ai eu le bonheur d’être contactée afin de réali-ser un album solo en français, ma langue maternelle. J’ai été honorée d’être choisie pour faire cela. La manière de travailler pour cet album solo a été très différente que pour l’album d’AZYLYA. En effet, Ricky Daga, mon producteur ( du groupe italien Fankaz) a composé les 10 chansons de l’album et les as enregistrées avec le batteur Michele Giglio Gilioli. Ces 10 morceaux m’ont été envoyés et j’ai fait les lignes mélodiques et les paroles. J’ai été enregistré au Titan Lab recording Studio ( Ricky Daga) en Italie. Ce fût une expérience très agréable. Quelques jours de coaching vocal avec Kirayel ( The Way of Purity) à Modena et ensuite enregistrement au Studio à Ferrara avec Ricky et Carlo ( Epictronic) sous le soleil et dans la bonne humeur .”

For the non French speaking, Jamie-Lee says Wormholedeath had begun a new label, Epictronic, to work with different styles of metal and she was asked to develop something. The present work is the result. She then talks about people who worked with her to make it happen, helping out in a variety of ways.

The songs address a range of topics, they are a strength of the release. It strikes me that the topics, in some ways, effect the tone of the music. Again, Jamie-Lee explains:

“Finalement, cet album contient 7 chanson en français avec parfois des refrains en anglais et trois chansons totalement en anglais . Les thèmes des chansons , c’est moi qui les ai choisis. Dans Azylya, j’avais écrit l’histoire, une histoire imaginaire très noire. Ici des thèmes me tiennent à cœur comme le combat pour la protection des éléphants, les moments douloureux que j’ai vécu à la mort de mon grand-père, le film « autant en emporte le vent » que j’ai vu des dizaines de fois et qui me touche beaucoup, la route 66 , mon rêve américain, route que j’aimerais tant parcourir un jour, voir le grand Canyon et la nature sauvage, voir les petites station d’essence au bord de la route, s’arrêter et regarder le soleil se coucher sur des couleurs ocres …. J’ai également fait un hommage aux soldats et à leur famille, aujourd’hui la manière de faire la guerre a changé mais ces hommes sont toujours confrontés à l’horreur , à des pertes d’amis, à l’éloignement et à l’incertitude. Pour toutes les personnes qui ont une sensibilité paranormale, je les renvoie vers la dernière chanson de l’album « Waiting for my gost ». J’ai déjà signé pour un deuxième album, nous verrons quelle forme prendra celui là.”

Again, Jamie-Lee suggests that songs are in French and English and address a variety of topics of interest to her over a range of topics. Some, like Comme Un Soldat are especially moving, especially to those of us who have experience with the topic up close and personal. She also express-es an interest in some American topics, the movie Gone with the Wind, for instance, as well as sights and sounds of the American West, Route 66 being mentioned and being one of the more interesting tracks on the release. And, finally, she comments that she has already signed for a second album, the specifics of which are still in the works.

I don’t have a lot of video to send you to other than this intro. But, it does give you a little of the feel of the release. And that sound is clearly different from Azylya Gothic. It’s a light, airy pop sound on many of the tracks. You don’t get that with the first track, Club 27 which sounds more like it comes from a club, maybe Club 27. More guitars here, a little more pulse to the music. You get this sometimes, other tracks like L’amour De Freddy have a similar sound. Others sound even a little more intense, Revivre being one of the faster sounds. Jamie-Lee almost sounds Azylya with this one, but the French lyrics remind you that dead children in an insane asylum will not be the topic of interest here.

But other tracks take a pronounced tack in a softer, more ethereal direction. Sur La Piste Des Elephants is one of the English tracks and we get a lyric that almost begs a Doom metal interpretation:

Slave of men, you’re full of genius, / Great painter, timber holder,
Martyr, phajaan martyr, I’m with you.

Elephant, beauty of the world,
Elephant, I will help you, I promise,
I’ll break your chains, ancestor, / On the earth.

Others, like Route 66, present us with a track that is made for commercial radio. We get an upbeat, pop sound filled with hooks to keep the front seat of the 66 Chevrolet jumping. I’ve been on Route 66 many times, and, although this is the first time I’ve heard it described in French, the track most definitely does capture the dreamy quality of the driving experience. Jamie-Lee sings:

No control, no control, on the mother road,
I’m not scared, not afraid, on the death alley,
I listen to Chuck Berry, on the Missouri.

No control, no control,
A beer in the hand.

Sans orage, ni stress, Chicago-Angeles,
Par la route 66, sur des airs de Memphis,
Rayon de lumière à travers ce désert.

Perfect. Even better on a big BMW motorcycle, trust me. I’ve done hundreds of miles on Route 66 that way.

Well, it’s a different take for Jamie-Lee, but that’s what it’s supposed to be. And, it’s an interesting ride, musically and other wise. I suspect she’s going to make money on this one, maybe too much. I want this to be successful, I like the girl. But I hope it won’t end her other interests. She has too much to offer in the Gothic, hopefully she can do both.