Chanteuse and songwriter Jessica Fichot is a lot like her hometown of Paris: French at heart, but with a soul that’s truly international. Her multi-ethnic French / Chinese / American upbringing colors the songs on her debut album. It’s called Le Chemin, “The Path,” and for good reason: Jessica takes the listener on a twisting journey out of the French chanson tradition, into the lands of gypsy jazz, Chinese and Latin American folk music, through the classic American repertoire, and off into the wilderness of her imagination.
Born in the U.S. to a French father and a Chinese mother, Jessica was raised in France in a multicultural environment. A youth spent playing music in Parisian coffeehouses and concert halls led her first to graduate from the School of Audio Engineering in Paris and then from Berklee College of Music in Boston. School was followed by a stint writing children’s music for educational programs - her work includes over a hundred songs published in over a dozen countries - and later, for television. When Jessica moved to California, she began writing the songs that would eventually form the backbone of her new album.
The album’s center lies with her sophisticated writing and arrangements, her pure, beautiful vocal work - sung mostly in French and English, along with some Chinese and Spanish - and her piano and accordion playing. She also enlisted over 20 musicians to give each of her songs just the right mood...sometimes intimate, sometimes epic.
“Le Grenier” and “Je Sais Qu’Tu M’aimes” combine energetic Django-esque swing with the kind of sardonic lyrics that were the stock in trade of legendary singers like Serge Gainsbourg and Georges Brassens. “1, 2, 3” and “Le Chemin” echo with the sounds of the musette dance hall and sparkle with Jessica’s inventive and dreamy arrangements. “Le Velours et la Soie” is a playful and sexy linguistics lesson, with Chinese and French lyrics describing an interracial tryst. “Si...” hints at a new direction for Jessica by fusing programmed drums with haunting French lyrics...like Portishead for the Montmartre café set. An English translation of Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy’s composition “I Will Wait for You” and an English/French hybrid of the classic “Dream a Little Dream of Me” cross the language barrier effortlessly and stylishly. And for sheer excitement, it’s hard to match Jessica’s rendition of the Spanish-language folk song “Los Peces en el Rio.” It’s like Le Chemin as a whole: entreating, seductive, and ultimately thrilling.
Jessica Fichot is also bringing the songs of Le Chemin to audiences everywhere, backed by an amazing quartet of clarinet/sax/flute, upright bass, guitar, and drums. A trip to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX and performances planned in Canada and France are just the beginning of her travels. Jessica’s live act is a great way to see a new side of her debut album.
The Musicians: Jessica Fichot: vocals, piano/keys (1,2,4,9), trumpet (8), toy accordion (2,5,6,8) - Slava Tolstoy: guitar (1,4,5,6,8) - Dave Wilson: clarinet (1,5,6), flute (3), chorus vocals (5) - Gabe Noel: upright/electric bass (4,5,8,9), cello (4,6), chorus vocals (1,5) - August Emile: drums (1,3,7,8), chorus vocals (1) - Tommy Davy: Django guitar (1,7) - Marcel Camargo: guitar (3), mandolin (3,9) - Kayta Matsuno: additional guitar (3) - Danny McKay: upright/electric bass (1,3,7), chorus vocals (1) - Julian Hallmark: violin (4,6) - John Wicks: drums (5,9) - Yotam Rosenbaum: drums (2) - Franchot Tone: drum programming (2) - Doron Kochli: accordion (1,7,9) - Adam Topol: additional drums (1) - Mads Tolling: violin (2,3,9), viola (2) - Manuel Tomás: drum programming (4) - Amir Efrat: piano/keys (3,7) - Jim Jedeikin: clarinet (2) - Cho Yoon Seung: piano (8)