Benjamin Biolay will be playing for the first time in Buenos Aires on April 18th and 20th as part of the BAFICI (Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival) activities. The French singer-songwriter is presenting his last album, Trash Yeyé -released last year- and songs from his previous discography.
It’s already common place when talking about French music, or more specifically, the French chanson, to refer to Serge Gainsbourg, the foundational father of that genre and the responsible one for millions of men finally hearing Jane Birkin moaning in “Je t’aime mais non plus.” But in the case of Benjamin Biolay, this cliché is more than justified (though he’s never included people faking orgasms in his songs) and the kid lives up to papa Serge’s standard.
Anything that you expect from a French chanteuse will be fulfilled by this tall, thin, thirty-five-year old: elegance, whispered singing, delicate orchestrations that range from an intimate piano solo to melodramatic strings sections, and lyrics that you don’t understand at all but sound so pretty.
But if you’re not a Francophile have no fear. As his predecessor, Biolay keeps a playfulness in his music that has led him to, for example, produce a debut album entirely based on the life of Rose Kennedy and her family (though we accept that he had more than enough material to sing with the United States’ Royal family history on his behalf).
“Rose Kennedy” was an album that revisited not only the iconic family and the legends that surrounded them — Marilyn Monroe’s voice can be heard in some of the songs — but the whole aura of the post war world, the decline of the black and white golden era portrayed by the sounds of a grand piano.
After his well received first opus in 2002, he released “Negatif” the following year. The double disc had a more folkish sound than the previous one, a sepia tone album that alternated the intimacy of acoustic guitars with old school French pop tunes, which he taps so well. The next year he continued exploring folk music with “Home,” recorded with his then wife Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, two of the ultimate symbols of the heritage of elegance that Biolay represents).
In 2005 he sustained his prolific publishing rhythm with “A l’origine,” a return to the baroque orchestrations (including a children’s choir, something that not everybody can get away with) and the songs from a bon vivant that has a love-hate relationship with Paris, the city where he has lived for fifteen years.
“Trash Yeyé” is his last album, and as he has done before, Biolay delights us with a fine balance between pop and sounds that should belong to a noir film, between broken hearts tales and the stories from the lifestyle of a 21st century dandy.
Benjamin Biolay will be playing at Niceto club, 5510 Niceto Vega St., on April 18th at 9 p.m. and on April 20th at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65 Argentinean pesos ($80 pesos if you want to sit, only valid for Sunday’s gig) and can be purchased through Ticketek or at Niceto, Monday to Friday, from 12 to 6 p.m.