Debreu English Chansons CD cover

I’m over the moon – and still a bit gobsmacked – to announce the release of the very first CD of Frederic Debreu’s songs.

That’s eleven selected works from the great master himself, translated into English, performed and produced by the artists behind Jake Thackray’s album of ‘lost songs’. It's fronted by the terrific John Watterson, who recorded the vocals in time out from his never-ending UK tour of festivals and folk clubs.

I penned lyrics for nine of the songs (and very occasionally donned my musician’s hat during the production stage to send helpful email feedback like ‘why don’t you make that first line of the chorus go sort of om-tee-tom-tee-tooo rather than om-pom-diddle-i-pom?’ – I really have no idea how the performers would have managed without my astute musical nous.)

The end result is an imagining of what Debreu might have sounded like in translation, as recorded in the present day and performed by British artists. A concept album based on the book, I suppose? The very first Fictitious French Chansonnier English-Yorkshire-Norfolk Concept Album.

It’s an odd experience, seeing other people take forward a vision of yours. But I’ve been watching in utter delight as things came to fruition. Paul Thompson – the man behind the melodies and guitar playing – is steeped in French Chanson; incredibly knowledgeable about the form, he took the idea, and ran with it. A couple of US book reviewers had previously mentioned that they had to Google to see if Debreu was ‘real’ – I absolutely cherished reading that, and can now answer ‘yes’, in that Fred’s taken on a life independent of me.

And I am as flattered as hell that these proper musicians thought enough of the book to think: ‘aha! We could develop an album based on this, and sell and perform it alongside the Jake Thackray stuff!’ That is quite something to me, and it would be ridiculous and dishonest to pretend to be all cool about it.

Find out about the album here; there's a small YouTube sampler of the music, and the lyrics are on the site if you're interested. An ideal Christmas gift? See what you think.