Carla Bruni: French Touch review – odd, detached covers, plus a bit of mischief

Dave Simpson
Trademark smoky, breathy vocals … Carla Bruni. Photograph: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

Although Carla Bruni is probably best known in the UK as the wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the ex-supermodel has been a pop star in France for 20 years. Here, singing in English, she brings trademark smoky, breathy vocals to an impeccable range of covers ranging from well-worn standards (Moon River, Stand By Your Man) to less predictable personal favourites (Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence). All are given the same treatment: beautiful but strangely detached French ennui and tasteful jazzy backings. She almost surgically removes the emotion from The Winner Takes It All and Love Letters, songs that demand real passion. Meanwhile, David Foster’s arrangements veer from the flawlessly sophisticated to the downright inappropriate: Lou Reed’s Perfect Day as a jaunty, zippy waltz? Thankfully, Bruni brings a hint of mischief to former beau Mick Jagger’s Miss You and her sultry, playful take on AC/DC’s Highway to Hell is so incongruous it works wonderfully.