Québécoise Béatrice Martin, better known by her stage name Cœur de pirate (French for “pirate heart”), is somewhat of a musical minimalist. With songs that feature little more than a piano and her signature songbird voice, she’s created lovely, simple tunes that have been the rainy day soundtrack of choice for me for the past couple years.
Given that my understanding of French is questionable at best, I have very little idea what I’ve been listening to lyrically over the years, but make no mistake, I’ve grown to be very familiar with her songs. Besides, they sound pretty and I’m reasonably sure they aren’t about anything seriously demented (if I’m wrong, I don’t want to know).
Amidst the chorus of jumbled French and English words of encouragement from the audience, Martin unassumingly took the stage at El Rey last Friday sans accompanying backup band. Armed with little more than a piano and a guitar, she delighted the audience with her melodies sung primarily in French in a refreshingly stripped-down set the likes of which I have not witnessed in a long, long time. Although I can’t necessarily see her commanding arenas in the same manner, it worked undeniably well at the intimate El Rey.
In between songs, the chanteuse gave the audience a taste of her self-deprecating humor. While segueing from her piano to the guitar set-up on stage, she remarked, “If you notice, most of the songs from the album are played on the piano…and now you’re going to find out why!” She further expressed gratitude for the support she’s been given with refreshing candor while reciprocating declarations of love from the audience (and trust me, there were many). She’s the type of musician I’d want to get to know in a no-homo sense (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Though lacking somewhat in the production-value department, Cœur de pirate’s set was mesmerizing, and despite being on the verge of a jet-lag-induced narcoleptic episode, I left El Rey feeling enchanted.
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