Jo’l Virgil | Amour Amer (Electric Monkey)

The tracks “Midnight” and “La Chanson De Slogan” make up the acquired taste of this multi-course offering. “Midnight,” while it shows off Virgil’s voice, is so desolate and depressing that perhaps Virgil would have been better off to not record his friend’s ode to an ended romance with a Parisian runway model.

Joël Virgil’s debut album Amour Amer, is like a multi-course meal at a fine restaurant: some offerings may surprise and delight, while others may require more of an acquired taste.

The opening track, “Losing Me,” is one that delights. Virgil’s breezy voice, at times reminiscent of Seal, and jazzy, Brazilian-influenced orchestrations make it an ideal and much-needed addition to the highly unoriginal contemporary or “smooth” jazz radio format.

In “Kiss Me,” the smooth second track, Virgil seduces us in both English and French. Long ago, before Eddie Murphy sold his soul to making really bad movies, he said in the now classic stand-up comedy film Raw that “everything sounds good in French.” With Virgil’s “Kiss Me,” Eddie was correctement.

On the other hand, Virgil’s French seduction doesn’t quite work on the rather silly “Carnal Matters.” However, he makes up for this misstep with his show tune-style version of the Velvet Underground classic, “Femme Fatale,” the lovely “Anais Nin” and “Close Your Eyes,” and the wonderfully rhythmic “Samba E Amor.”

The tracks “Midnight” and “La Chanson De Slogan” make up the acquired taste of this multi-course offering. “Midnight,” while it shows off Virgil’s voice, is so desolate and depressing that perhaps Virgil would have been better off to not record his friend’s ode to an ended romance with a Parisian runway model. But then again, who wouldn’t be utterly distraught if a woman of unattainable beauty and a French accent dumped them?

“La Chanson De Slogan” is very sophisticated—very French, if you will. Throughout the song, Virgil insults a woman with his affecting accent who has presumably hurt him. “You are rude. You are crude,” he tells her, and she answers back, “You still love me.” While the lyrics leave much to be desired for originality, the music on this track is a beautifully compelling mix of Middle Eastern melodies and tango rhythms.

After treating us to several highly original and often sophisticated compositions, Virgil descends into Euro club mix hell with the easily disposable “I Won’t Take No.” I can already hear it pulsating above the dance floors in Ibiza and other places where the young, tan, and restless go.

Still, even with this needless garnish, overall, Joël Virgil’s Amour Amer is an album worth tasting.

 

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