De Loin, Les Choses

Radio Khartoum

Gypsophile? I suppose in translation that would be “lover of gypsies.” One who looks on those wanderers and entertainers longingly and dreams of throwing everything away and following them into strange lands. On this, his second release, Guillaume Belhomme sings his songs of wandering in a foreign land and loves lost and found. Plucking what sounds like a classical guitar, he is accompanied by the mournful strains of reeds, or the occasional piano that provides a few chords before disappearing.

On some tracks, the music has an almost bossa nova beat or feel. Particularly the track “Les Demains Meilleurs,” the gentle beat of the drums evokes a sense of traveling down cobblestone streets in a strange country. On “Mes Nuits D’Avant,” the music retains a decidedly jazz feel, with the drummer keeping time and Belhomme playing jazz chords. I swear I can see Paris on an overcast day, or maybe it’s the frontier of Algeria. A soldier reads a “dear garcon letter from his girlfriend back home.

On “Quand Sort Le 3,” Belhomme sings a duet with Marine Livernette. I can’t tell you what they’re saying but I imagine a handsome couple, dancing a tango, and seen only from the waist up. The man and woman are both dressed in black and this duet consists in them trading bon mots as the dance progresses. The song ends, but the dance has just begun.

This is a very good album that works well late at night. Highly affecting, it serves as good accompaniment for a candlelight dinner or to re-read that box of letters you kept under your bed. Or perhaps, to gaze wistfully out of your tenement flat and remember all those years so long ago, spent under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Radio Khartoum, 722 Alcatraz Ave., No. 106, Oakland, CA 94609;

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