Cocorosie La Maison de Mon Rêve

[Touch and Go; 2004]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: lo-fi blues, folk, minimal hip-hop, delta blues
Others: Devendra Banhart, Mirah, Nelly Furtado

"I'll iron your clothes/ I'll polish your shoes/ I'll make your bed/ And cook your food/ I'll never cheat/ I'll be the best girl you'd ever meet/ And for a diamond ring/ I'll do these kinds of things/ I'll scrub your floors/ Never be a bore/ I'd tuck you in/ I do not snore." — Sierra Casady

If you believe in the idea that big things come in small packages, La Maison de Mon Rêve is the type of album you'll want to hear. It comes in the form of a duo called Cocorosie. What makes the album immediately charming is the restrained humility that surrounds each of these songs. From the extremely gentle, yet very old-fashioned, vocals of Sierra Casady to the sparse organic sounds performed by her sister Bianca, La Maison de Mon Rêve is expressive art in its most basic form. Although it's blatantly obvious that the easiest reference here would be Devendra Banhart and his ghostly style, there are additional layers in Cocorosie's music that make it just as promising as anything Mr. Banhart has currently completed. This is primarily due to the fact that there are more instruments and textures in Cocorosie's work.

One of the most influential things about Cocorosie is the fact that they've actually (re)invented a genre consisting of folk, hip-hop, and blues that has never been pursued prior to this album. What that genre will be called remains to be seen, but I'd call this album a dense study in "delta folk-blues." Funny enough, because if you research back to the beginning of blues music, you'll find that there aren't too many (if any) female artists from the '30s, '40s, or '50s that played the same type of music as a Robert Johnson or Skip James. Fifty years later, however, Cocorosie actually possess these qualities that were missed by the female artists of those periods.

Not all of La Maison de Mon Rêve is folk and blues based. In fact, on songs like "By Your Side," "Not For Sale," and "Hatian Love Songs," there are tiny hip-hop beats that give the album yet another unlikely dimension. The single greatest element of this album is the vocals given up by Sierra. Her vocals and songwriting abilities are passive, yet entirely effective ("Jesus Loves Me" and "By Your Side"). These are the types of songs I've never heard before, at least in this context. The lyrics themselves are worth their weight in gold, but the entire album is a forward-thinking piece of music.

Only on rare occasions do artists come along and create something completely detached from the rest of the field. They immediately become a trendsetter, and inadvertently inspire many other artists to attempt the same sound. This Parisian duo is one of those artists. I can almost guarantee you haven't heard anything like it in the past, but we'll probably see a lot of imitators in the future. I get extremely excited when things like this come along and remind me that big things do come in small packages. And for the time being, La Maison de Mon Rêve remains the most original sounding album I've heard this year.

1. Terrible Angels
2. By Your Side
3. Jesus Loves Me
4. Good Friday
5. Not For Sale
6. Tahiti Rain Song
7. Candy Land
8. Butterscotch
9. West Side
10. Madonna
11. Hatian Love Songs
12. Lyla