Margot Sergent: Douce France/Sweet France

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Margot Sergent

Douce France/Sweet France

(Zoho Music)

December 30, 2023

Reviewed by Alix Cohen

Margot Sergent has a soprano that evokes dew lighting on grass, and she fittingly plays harp. This instrument, often blended with guitar, becomes a vehicle for gentle jazz that makes the sound of this collection unique. Sergent sings mostly in French, but alas, the lyrics aren’t included with the CD. Two songs in her native language and a few in English are her own. Everything is low key and personal.

“Keep the Moon in Mind” (Sergent) conjures a Maxfield Parish sky of rich, graduated blues. Friends stroll in a desert as far as the eye can see. Now and then a skip or a whirl produces a less ladylike giggle. The conversation is philosophical. Two songs by Charles Trenet are sung in French. “Douce France” showcases Linus Wyrsch’s cool, swinging clarinet, and “I Wish You Love” invites the Vitor Gonçalves’ accordion to dance. The mood is that of is of another century; the bittersweet lyrics are timeless.

“The Apartment Next Door,” Sergent says, celebrates the family we choose. The lyric Your place or minedoesn’t signify colloquial intention. Again, the harp and Patrick Brennan’s guitar interlace. Delightful slip/sliding scat embroiders; the clarinet is warm, and the vocal is airbrushed.

Charles Aznavour’s classic “La Bohème,” with its delectable accordion accompaniment, speaks of yearning: “Let me tell of a time when the world was in rhyme/With the sound of our laughter.” Sergent’s interpretation feels optimistic. “L’Hymme a l’amour” (Maribel Minnot/Edith Piaf) is less solemn than wonderstruck, eschewing the usual drama and volume. “Sans tes bras mon ange” (“Without Your Arms/Embrace, My Angel”) tiptoes in with harp and  then embarks, sailing on thermals; the strings are fluent and ephemeral.

The guitar in “Silent Steps” sounds Pizzarelli-like. Sergent’s vocal climbs and drops, and climbs and drops again. Alec Saffy’s bass emits round-edged notes, shadowing more than accompanying. “With me, with me, with me, with me,” the singer intones and wishes. (Both songs were written by Sergent.)

“La rua maduriera”  (Nino Ferrer), sung in French, is a bossa nova. The music takes small, quick steps below oscillating hips. It’s a rhythmic reverie enhanced by Ben Silashi’s drums: “No, I will never forget the bay of Rio/The colour of the sky, the name of Corcovado/La Rua Madureira, the street where you lived/I will not forget yet I have never been there.” Accompanied by a savory guitar and her infatuated scat, Sergent creates her own vista. The instrumental “Saudade” (Sergent) features a crystalline harp that creates an evocative dreamscape, almost classical in nature, like a ballet.

The musicianship on this CD is deft, symbiotic, shssshhh. Even if you don’t understand it all, the CD is a lovely listen. Margot Sergent is peaceful company.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.