Reviewer: Helen Jones
Frances Ruffelle first came to public prominence when she made her West End debut as Eponine in Les Miserables, taking the rôle to Broadway and winning a Tony award for the performance. Since then she has starred in many theatre rôles as well as performing on television. I Say Yeh-Yeh is her sixth studio album.
Ruffelle wanted the album to reflect her love of France and all things Parisian, having fallen in love with the fantasy of France when young. This had led to her love of the yé-yé movement, Juliette Gréco and Edith Piaf, all of which inspired her in her career.
The album opens with a track, L’un Vers L’autre which was originally written for the character of Eponine in Les Miserables but never used in the show, and closes with On My Own, the song which launched Ruffelle’s career. In between is a mix of Engish and French songs, sung in a mix of English and French! A pared down version of Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien is evocative and beautifully done, but unfortunately many of the tracks are instantly forgettable.
A combined version of Georgie Famee’s Yeh Yeh and Brigitte Bardot’s Ça Pourrait Changer doesn’t feel like it works and the single Paris Summer, featuring the debut vocals of Rowan John, is a little uninspiring. Included is also Le Brasier which was originally written by Ruffelle in English but here sung in French due to its popularity for singer Etienne Daho.
The idea Frances Ruffelle had was to create a joyful and nostalgic European road trip in album form and brought producer Gwyneth Herbert on board to take it from paper to CD. Unfortunately while the feel of the album has a certain nostalgia to it, it doesn’t create that joyful feeling you are promised.
Frances Ruffelle has a beautiful pure voice and this album shows it off well. It has matured in the thirty years since her debut rôle in Les Miserables but has not lost any of it’s clarity. The track Hymme A L’Amour shows it off at it’s best.
Overall I Say Yeh-Yeh is a pleasant, easy listening album but it has nothing to make it an outstanding one.