Released - May 2021
Label - Roche Musique
'While You Were Sleeping...' presents a retrospective account of a project that has had time to marinate. This week sees us returning to French due LaBlue and Astrønne's 'Blue Phases'.
Producer/multi-instrumentalist LaBlue and singer Astrønne’s collaborative debut EP ‘Blue Phases’ birthed an award-winning 2021 single ‘Femme du crépuscule', which married smoky-eyed R&B with ultra-hip French electronica that was just bright enough to seduce ears and lift spirits amidst the darker months of the ongoing pandemic.
'Blue Phases' continues this trend and expands it further into jazz, deep neo-soul and aquatic R&B. The breathtaking stacked harmonies, expertly performed upright piano and painfully shy strings of opening track ‘Lost’ are a perfect bed to showcase Astrønne as a high priestess of midnight balladry. Each of the six tracks are refined of any flaws whatsoever and are melodically composite enough even in its most minimal moments to retain the overall maudlin and laudanum of the whole.
The seductive loosening and tightening of grooves allow Astrønne’s melodies to pirouette with devastating effect and nowhere is this more present than on second track ‘Keep It Smooth’, which is a superb example of achieving maximum effect through minimal instrumentation and empathically sophisticated songwriting. She possesses a voice that is nothing less than a finely-tuned delicacy which continues to be exhibited on third track ‘Blue’ which delivers a sincere desire for warm-blooded intimacy atop shy shuffling percussion, touches of classical guitar and held-breath piano, overhanging from the previous track that then plunges into fantasy and desire.
‘Blue Phases’ is sung in both English and French, and Astrønne’s stylings on the English sung tracks will be familiar to fans of sensual, narcotic R&B. Whilst all of her performances are supremely alluring, the stressing of different syllables and unique pentameter give the cruising bounce of 'Femme du crépuscule' a sturdy melodic center, which when juxtaposed against the tracks sung in English, creates a texture of subtle and charming diversity.
La Blue & Astrønne’s collaboration is a rare meeting of two artists who complement each other perfectly through being deservedly confident in their own abilities. Without the assistance of the other, ‘Blue Phases’ could never be the resounding success that it is and it's impossible not to fall in love with their chemistry. Every one of the other five songs here lives up to and exceeds the quality of the award-winning lead single ‘Femme du crépuscule' and their excitement at working together beams through, despite for the most part, the songs being so sensually slow you can rest your head on their shoulder.