Claude Fontaine: reggae and bossa nova

The history of this album is very charming. Here is an American living temporarily in London. One day she finally enters the record store, which she passes by every day on her way home. And because it was not a completely random store, after passing the threshold the American finds herself in a completely different world.

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Claude Fontaine self-titled record cover

World music. This is probably the most general way to describe the Honest Jon’s record store offer, although not everyone likes this term. What is important in our history is the wide range of reggae and Brazilian music. It was these genres that impressed Claude Fontaine and became the basis for the sound of her debut album, which she recorded after returning to the United States.

Side A is pulsating reggae in the early 70s style. Side B – bossa nova and música Popular Brasileira. But the most captivating is Claude’s soft and mesmerizing voice. I really like the way she sings. It reminds me of retro French singers and gives the album a very sexy atmosphere.

Claude Fontaine wrote her songs under the watchful eye (or ear actually) of Lester Mendez, a producer who has collaborated with many stars, including Grace Jones, Shakira and Sean Paul. Famous musicians also took part in the recording of the album: Jamaican guitarist Tony Chin, Ronnie McQueen from Steel Pulse, Rock Deadrick (Ziggy Marley’s drummer) and great Brazilian drummer Airto Moreira.

Most of the 10 songs talk about difficult relationships and feelings and were inspired by Claude’s personal experiences. But musically the record is so pleasant that when you do not focus too much on the lyrics, your thoughts go to a warm place somewhere in the world where an evening drink on the beach tastes like nowhere else.

For obvious reasons, I like the pulsing, reggae part of the recording more. The opening song, “Cry For Another” is great. In “Little Sister” you can feel the vibes of “Ghost Town” by The Specials. I also really like “Love Street”, which according to the author is only seemingly a happy love story.

Claude Fontaine’s record was released in April 2019 by Innovative Leisure Records. You can listen to it on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Photo: “Claude Fontaine” album cover / John Zabawa.


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