Odalie - Puissante Vulnérabilité

A Closer Listen

Can vulnerability be strength?  Mental health experts say so, yet warring forces stand their ground, political opponents discard compromise, and lovers refuse to apologize, as Black Lilys sings on the album’s first single, “poisoning the ground, polluting the air.”  In other places, tiny miracles still unfold: a community decides that it needs less so that others may have more; a church admits that it was wrong; lovers spat and cry and laugh, admitting their foibles. Puissante Vulnérabilité (Powerful Vulnerability) is a statement of faith from Odalie (Sophie Griffon) that collaboration is healthier than competition and can benefit us all.

Alma Alta’s cover art is intriguing, seen on both the album and preceding singles.  The image is akin to Westworld in that a face is removed, but flowers are revealed instead of circuitry.  We all have faces that we present, faces that we hide, and faces that represent our true selves.  The implication is that something even more beautiful may lie beneath.  The model’s nakedness is yet another symbol.  As her removed face stares at her reflection in the water, seemingly unperturbed, one wonders at her thoughts.

The music backs up the premise, as it is described as the result of collaboration and encompasses multiple genres without losing its own identity ~ a fear of xenophobes,  At times ambient, at times electronic, at times modern composition, the music is entirely engulfing.  In the stunning opener, strings and beats prove once again that they can coexist and be more than the sum of their parts.  The video for the percussive “Battements” begins with the opening of a flower and the stretching of a hand, its images hinting at other titles: rain, a caress, a dance; and then flurries of images, like lives flashing before the eyes, intersected by an homage to the Sistine Chapel.  The multi-talented Alma Atta proves an effective collaborator once more.

Given the forwardness of such tracks, the humility of “Attendre l’éclaircie” comes as a welcome surprise, a wider extension of the theme.  Guitar, keys and strings hold a quiet conversation, each listening to the other; and then, as if coming to an agreement, they invite the percussion to enter the room.  “Wounded” is even more sedate, with an Indian vibe, like a retreat within one’s self.  In this piece and “Caresser,” rain seems to fall on the studio, but in “Danse des astres” and “Clear the Air,” the sky – physical and interpersonal – reveals its hidden treasures.

Odalie seems stronger because she is vulnerable, laying herself bare on the closing track through the voice of Claire days.  It takes more courage to listen to new opinions than to shout old ones.  It takes more strength to admit that one is weak than to pretend that one is strong.  To be brave is not to lack fear, but to admit it. We know these truths, but can we live them?  (Richard Allen)

Thu Sep 21 00:01:05 GMT 2023