Newest Review: ... video and the start of the song, and being the curious sort, I headed to the Brussels branch of FNAC to buy her English album. Overall th... more
Belgian singer Lara Fabian's English language debut
Lara Fabian - Lara Fabian
Member Name: rosebud2001
Lara Fabian - Lara Fabian
Date: 06/02/09, updated on 15/06/09 (1418 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful vocals, some strong melodies
Disadvantages: A little too much of the vocal acrobatics, some bland tracks
Both singers had big voices - and both performed the traditional French ballad that dominated Eurovision for so long in the first half of the contest's history.
Dion walked off the winner that day - and headed off to launch her hugely successful English language career. Fabian came fourth and headed to Dion's home city of Montreal to try her luck there. However Fabian shouldn't be compared to Dion apart from the Francophone tracks and Eurovsion 1988 - Fabian is a songwriter as well as a singer and for me anyway, her voice is infinitely superior to Dion's.
Her career grew slowly in the francophone market and she finally broke through with the album "Pure" in France in 1996, which yielded several hit singles there for her, including "Tout", "La Difference" and "Je T'Aime".
Her French success was duly noted by no less than Tommy Mottola at Sony, and she was signed by the label for her English language debut, and recorded this album in 1998 and 1999 in the US. The album was initially released in France and Belgium in late 1999 with various release dates around the world in 2000.
Fabian is a classically trained singer and I was initially drawn to her voice because of the control she has over her instrument. When she uses her voice to best effect this control gives her a beautiful tone and the ability to add several layers to her voice. Unfortunately she has the francophone habit of over-egging the pudding somewhat and her voice is nowhere near as impressive when she does this.
I first heard Fabian sing when, appropriately enough, I was in Belgium. My husband worked there for 5 years and when our daughter was tiny I would spend a couple of weeks there every month and he would come home weekends when I was at our home in London.
I used to watch MCM, a French music channel, when MTV Europe was playing dross, and I used to find some of the Francophone songs either amusing (the gangsta rap seemed odd to me) or melodic and I recall the video for "Je T'Aime" quite clearly from these times.
In 1999 I saw the video for "Adagio", Lara's first release in English. I was struck by the video and the start of the song, and being the curious sort, I headed to the Brussels branch of FNAC to buy her English album.
Overall this is a mixed bag, and the main problem is the fact there is no cohesion to this album - there is no single producer in charge and listening to this CD again, 9 years on, I can see how Lara seems to sing differently for different producers and this affects the overall feel of the album in my opinion.
Self penned with her long time collaborator Rick Allison, this is based on Tomaso Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor. The ballad starts slowly and showcases Lara's vocal talents perfectly. Slowly the song builds up to a vocal crescendo, which works well on this song because the classical melody is so good.
2 "Part of Me"
This song was co-written and produced by Patrick Leonard, who worked extensively with Madonna in the earlier phase of her career. Had the entire album been produced by Leonard, I think we would have had a better finished product - Leonard understands how to get the best vocally out of Fabian and while this is a ballad, it showcases a soulful side to her voice to great effect.
3 "Givin' Up On You"
Another successful song - this one is more uptempo and I particularly enjoy this song due to the control Fabian shows in her vocals. This is another Patrick Leonard produced song. I often felt when this album was released that this could have been a successful international single, but the powers that be clearly thought otherwise. It did surface on a "Dawsons Creek" CD a year or so down the line.
4 "You Are My Heart"
This was co-written and produced by Walter Afanasieff and is probably the weakest track on the album. The song is a very bland ballad, with ineffectual lyrics and Lara's vocals travel from the sublime to the histrionic. Not her finest moment.
5 "I Am Who I Am"
The first uptempo song on the album. This was co-written by Fabian and Allison with American duo Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who produced the track. The song is reasonably catchy, but not particularly memorable, and this isn't a great introduction to Fabian's true vocal abilities.
6 "To Love Again"
Overall, I find I enjoy hearing Lara Fabian sing in English over French - I find her French singing to be too dramatic and she uses less of the vocal intricacies I can pick up on her English songs. This song, however, is the exception to the rule.
Originally recorded as "Si Tu M'Aimes", this song was a big French dramatic ballad, and in French it works well. However the English translation is just too much - the vocals are too loud and the drama too much - one realises that there is something of a cultural divide between what works in francophone markets to what does in the English speaking world.
7 "You're Not From Here"
Another Walter Afanasieff produced track and this one is markedly better than "You are My Heart". There is far more control in Fabian's voice, and the change in tone as she works her way through the ballad work very well. Even the vocal crescendo at the end works in this song and while it would never work as a single, this is a good strong album track.
8 "Till I Get Over You"
This song was both written and produced by Louis Biancaniello and Sam Watters, who were the brains behind "I'm Outta Love" by Anastacia. You can actually hear bars of that song in this one, and Fabian clearly got their leftovers with this song. Its another uptempo track which might have worked in a remix as a dance track, but that's not a route Fabian was ever particularly interested in going down. It does have a far more modern feel than most of the other tracks on the album however.
9 "Love by Grace"
This is a beautiful song - beautifully sung and arranged. Originally recorded by Wynonna Judd, the country feel has been stripped from the song and in Fabian's hands it becomes a stunning ballad. Produced by Walter Afanasieff, he reigns in Fabian's vocals until close to the end, but still finishes the song softly.
10 "Yeliel (My Angel)"
This is a whimsical ballad which showcases the softer side of Fabian's voice, and works extremely well for it. This is another Patrick Leonard produced track and once again he brings out the best of Fabian, allowing her to sing her self-penned lyrics with panache and restraint.
11 "I Will Love Again"
This is the strongest track on the album - a real pop song with great uptempo beat. Written by Paul Barry and Mark Taylor, and co-produced by Brian Rawling, its easily the most modern song on the album, and should have been a huge hit with the correct promotion. It actually was a huge hit in some parts of the world, including Spain and performed well in the US too. Fabian sings optimistically about getting over a broken heart and finding a new love.
12 "Broken Vow"
"Broken Vow" was written by Fabian and Walter Afanasieff, the lyrics Fabian wrote inspired by her broken engagement to Patrick Fiori.
It is a very sad song and starts off very slowly, dealing with infidelity and builds up to a strong ending, with Fabian singing from her heart about her loss. The orchestration on this track is outstanding.
The song was later covered by Josh Groban who did a very good job with it, but failed to convey the true emotion Fabian has in her version.
13 "Adagio" (Italian Version)
And so the album ends as it began, with "Adagio". The music was written by a classical Italian composer and Fabian penned lyrics in Italian to catch that Tuscan feel. Despite being born in Belgium, Fabian spent five years in Italy as a child with her Sicilian mother, and her mother tongue is Italian. Vocally, there isn't much of a difference between this version and the English one, but the English version just nudges it for me.
Despite Sony promising a huge promotional push for this release, it was not a commercial success. Fabian herself didn't help matters by performing concerts in France and Belgium to the detriment of promotion in North America. When this CD was finally released in the UK, almost a year after its initial release in France and Belgium, she did barely any promotion and the album and single "I Will Love Again", vanished without trace.
I feel this is a shame and it saddens me that someone with such a great voice has been lost to English speaking audiences whilst Dion, the victor in Dublin that day in 1988, who I personally find has an inferior voice, became an international superstar.
Overall - lacks cohesion and some songs are pretty bland. Fabian also needs to learn that less is sometimes more - her voice is more effective when she isn't belting out big notes.
Available on Amazon for ú11.98 - but can be got for a lot less used or on Ebay.
Summary: A commercial failure and a mixed bag critically, but a good introduction to Lara Fabian