French poet and chameleonic vocalist Brigitte Fontaine's career spans over four decades. Only a few years before her 1968 debut, Brigitte Fontaine Est…Folle, she moved to Paris to become an actress and took her prodigiously mature voice into the studio. Rich in the drama she brought to theater, Fontaine synthesized chanson (French pop song) and world music, which eventually won her international acclaim as a performer and collaborator with a variety of artists from around the world (Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sonic Youth and Stereolab, to name just a few).
On Est…Folle, Fontaine takes flight over conductor Jean Claude Vannier's brilliant arrangements. Vannier, best known for his work on Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson, is in fine form, using what would become his trademark stylings: lush strings, taut rhythms culled from across the globe and a healthy dose of whimsy. "Il Pleut" swings from understatement to rapturous delight. "Une Fois Mais Pas Deux" is an infectious pop song that could have been culled from a French New Wave soundtrack. Fontaine is adventurous and multi-dimensional with sophisticated lyrics, poignant melodies and enthralling delivery. Such artful handling of meter and rhyme (or lack thereof) is rare in pop song. Far from the era's yé-yé phenomenon, but never fully removed from its traditions, Est…Folle is an essential link in French pop music, exuberantly pushing the genre into more conceptual and experimental sounds.