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Belinda Carlisle

Voila (Rykodisc)

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Belinda Carlisle might have been the sexiest female singer of the '80s, and her alto vibrato was just as alluring as her American-girl glow. But she's been MIA since 1996, lounging in southern France, where she perfected her delivery of the most romantic of all Romance languages for this all-French album. (Early pressings feature a bonus EP of four English adaptations.)

Voila is far removed from both the Go-Go's pop and the peppy side of Carlisle's previous solo material. Instead, it's her Linda Ronstadt-like reinvention as a torch singer. Carlisle covers standards and chansons made famous by icons including Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf, drifting from swirling world music to button-accordion waltzes and supper-club ballads. "Pourtant Tu M'aimes" ("I Still Love Him") best recalls her seductive new wave. Joining in on keyboards, Brian Eno adds a dash of expert ambiance to the bittersweet bliss of "Ne Me Quitte Pas," the English version of which, "If You Go Away," closes the EP with an impassioned "Please don't go away." Mademoiselle Carlisle, you should stick around too.

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