French singing phenomenon Camille Dalmais is back with a new album in October, and this time she says “it’s all about the spaces.” The self-produced Ilo Veyou (as in “I love you”) was recorded in three church chapels and at Noirlac Abbey, a 12th century piece of Cistercian architecture deep in the French countryside, to give it the kind of acoustics that no amount of studio trickery can buy. Admittedly, parts of it were also recorded in a studio, but at least they had wooden floors.
The songs were captured live with absolutely no overdubs and few instances of her voice being used to mimic a backing instrument – though she does at one point form her own children’s choir soundalike. “Instant takes,” says Camille. “Nothing too manufactured. I worked without headphones and click tracks in spaces that I liked. The point was to capture a musical moment. I want listeners to hear the rooms and relive what went on. It’s not always obvious. But your subconscious, I think, will get it.”
Whereas 2008′s Music Hole featured more English lyrics than any of her previous releases, Ilo Veyou brings back the French in a big way across its fifteen tracks. And they sound as playful as ever. Opening track ‘Aujourd’hui’ features Camille having a conversation with herself as she walks along a street; ‘Allez-Allez’ revels in exotic-sounding vocal trickery (“I turned the voices upside down in the studio and it sounded like a mix of Hebrew and Arabic, like the language of peace”); ‘Mars Is No Fun’ finds a traveller realising she prefers even suburban Milton Keynes to the dull monotony of outer space; while the provocatively titled ‘Wet Boy’ is “an erotic song about water”.
Elsewhere on the album sit the personal yet vibrant ‘My Man Is Married But Not To Me’ and the nursery rhyme-like ‘Bubble Lady’. New mother Camille says she’s interested in “the way babies talk and the way we talk to babies”, explaining “Whether I’m singing in French or English that’s what I’m looking for. I’m aiming for that expressive, communicative baby thing to come out.”
Camille brings all this and more to London’s Hackney Empire on November 3. Tickets are on sale now, priced £24.50–£27.50.