If you have ever sat with friends in your living room and listened while guitars played and someone sang a soft melody then you know the feeling, hard to express, of shared warmth and compassion. Welcome to the album No Promises by Carla Bruni. In this album, Ms. Bruni sings to poetry by Emily Dickenson, W. B. Yeats and other English poets. All the songs are in English and are faithful to the poet’s published work.
The songs are sung with a breathy intimacy that invites the listener to share Ms. Bruni’s living room. The beat is bluesy and a bit country and sometimes, as in Lady Weeping at the Crossroads by W. H. Auden, a light and easy rock beat takes over very effectively. The guitar and harmonica accompaniment is never overbearing and sometimes is allowed to stand alone—for a nice smooth sound.
Ms. Bruni is now Madam Bruni-Sarkozy and has put her song-writing and recording career on hold, but as first lady of France her celebrity continues. Newshour’s Art Beat recently aired a video about her career: supermodel, songwriter, and now good will ambassador and representative of the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation. In this later capacity she was recently in NY to establish a student-exchange program between the Sorbonne and the NYU’s Steinhardt School. Imagine the impact when the stunningly dressed, former super-model arrived with her secret-service bodyguards in a convoy of SUV’s.
The album No Promises will be our only chance to listen in English to the this exceptional person. My favorite song on the album is Autumn, a blues version of the poem by Walter de la Mare that seems especially adaptable to Carla’s voice. A close second is a nice melodic version of I Went to Heaven by Emily Dickenson. In all the songs the guitar accompaniment is very effective.
Listen to the album and then read the original poems—all have been published and every one I looked up was also on the www. Emily Dickenson’s poems are nicely printed in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, edited by R. W. Franklin. Listening is great, but reading from a beautiful book creates a special feeling, not to be missed. I hope this album will encourage someone to read the originals.
Day 51: The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition (edited by R. W. Franklin) (1998).