What a marvelous second album by the most British of all French pop musicians. It’s a magnificent piece of art.
It’s not easy to follow a fantastic debut album like A New Dimension To Modern Love with a worthy second album, that’s as good as the first one. Olivier Popincourt, the French singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, organ, piano, percussion) has mastered that task with his brilliant new record A Deep Sense Of Happiness.
Popincourt has worked four years on the album. He was backed by some super fine musicians and singers. Olivier Bostvironnois (grand piano), Fred Jimenez (bass), Hervè Bouétard (drums, percussion), Sèbastian Souchois (soprano saxophone), Quentin Ghomari (trumpet), the wonderful French Boutik vocalist Gabriela Giacoman (lead vocals and lyrics for While The Ship Sinks In and backing vocals elsewhere), two other feminine backing vocalists) and a formidable string quartet. The splendid horns and strings arrangements stem from Souchois, recording director was Bostvironnois. The fine graphic cover design comes from Serge Hoffmann (singer, songwriter, guitarist in French Boutik). The complete record is worth the long wait, cause it’s a magnificent piece of art.
Even though Popincourt over the years has amplified his musical palette with more tone colours and styles, the music on A Deep Sense Of Happiness sails in similar waters as his debut. From the British guitar beat and the Californian Sunshine Pop of the 1960s and 1970s to the British punk and new wave of the 1970s to the British indie pop of the 1980s, to Soul and Jazz anyway. You could name Popincourt’s influences and inspirations from A to Z, but what would that bring? After all is said and done and the last song has faded, it’s clear that A Deep Sense Of Happiness is 100% Popincourt, no other artist makes music just like this.
Mood wise Popincourt’s second album is a bit different from his romantic, love drunk debut. Whether autobiographical or written for a narrator, there are many songs here dealing with good-byes and new beginnings, thoughts of being young and getting older. They are not always full of hope, some are painfully soul-searching or even discuss the bad shape of the world. Maybe that’s owed to broken love affairs or the mean virus that has a stranglehold over the world. Who knows? But eventually positive, hopeful, uplifting feelings prevail.
Whether it’s songs, melodies, music, or arrangements – Popincourt doesn’t run a junk supermarket but a small and noble delicatessen shop. On the shelfs of A Deep Sense Of Happiness stand twelve formidable songs, maximum enjoyment guaranteed.
Side A of the 180g vinyl LP, which sits in a magnificent fold-out cover, opens with The Grass Of Winter Morning, a cautious guitar beat that pursues the nature images of Popincourt’s sublime 2019 EP 4 Colours 4 Seasons. Never Give All Your Heart, that seems to be a kind of warning to not fall in love too deeply, is an enchanting chamber music ballad with a baroque string quartet and a dazzling saxophone solo. Always Back (Like The Morning Dew) is a rousing guitar beat with beautiful sunshine pop harmonies and a soulful 60s organ. The emotive The Last Beams Of A Setting Sun sounds only for a few seconds like Lou Reed‘s Perfect Day, then a touching ballad evolves, sophisticatedly arranged and telling a short story about lovers that grow older and lose on the way their love, just like in the German Erich Kästner’s wonderful poem Sachliche Romanze. The title track has a fiercer beat and great jingling-jangling guitars in his veins and is maybe on the trail of a new love or a new start in life. My Whole World Is Falling Down explains itself in the title, but with its ringing guitars and nice sunshine pop harmonies doesn’t sound depressed at all.
Side B of A Deep Sense Of Happiness begins with one of the most beautiful songs of the album: the splendid melancholic ballad Where The Wind Never Blew which bewitches you with its touching sentiment and its sophisticated jazzy brass arrangement and Olivier Popincourt’s delicate Blue Note jazz guitar. French Boutik singer Gabriela Giacoman, charming as ever, takes over the vocals in the fierce 60s guitar beat groover While The Ship Sinks, she has also written its angry lyrics that bemoan the kaput condition of the modern world: „Let the last survivor turn out the lights“. But the wonderful guitar pop of Truly Yours lightens up the dark clouds, even though with a nostalgic glance to the past, upon which the following enchanting Spreading Golden Dust literally sprinkles gold powder. The charming ballad Once Upon A Time, a breath-taking beauty, is drifting once more between retrospect and re-orientation, but Popincourt’s melancholy melody and his delicate French accent are irresistible. The same goes for the conciliatory final song This Must Be Heaven, which is refined with soaring strings, a classical grand piano and Popincourt’s exquisite guitar solo with a touch of Pink Floyd.
I do not know if Joe Jackson, Paul Weller, Brian Wilson,or Burt Bacharach do know the music of Popincourt music, but they would like it.
Popincourt A Deep Sense Of Happiness, Milano Records, 2020
© The Deep Sense Of Happiness Pics shot by Klaus Winninger