Almost twenty years after turning The Water is Wide into one of his greatest hits, La Ballade nord-irlandaise, Renaud has fulfilled one of his old dreams: to transcribe some of the most famous Irish folk songs into French. And from Je reviendrai to Belfast Mill, and Vagabonds to Dubliners, the impression is that Renaud is not just singing about the Ireland of the Irish, but about everything he finds lacking in France: a rebellious, assertive people, unflaggingly loyal to working-class mentality and solidarity, and always ready to join together and fight the oppressor and its servitors.
The struggles and ordeals of Ireland provide the singer with a pool of myths, where the pride of IRA soldiers combines with the despair of a proletariat struck by yet another crisis, and the melancholy of the exiled with the fatal grief of a country at civil war. From the liberty of the vagabond to the frightening destiny of fighters’ wives, he sings about a country and a history straight from the movies. With its closed-down factories and its drama of uprooted lives, social and economic catastrophes, the whole album is tinged with saga.
And the saga is sung in unison, arm in arm, hollered out in the friendly, virile atmosphere of the pub. Recorded with French and local musicians, Molly Malone is a traditional Irish disc, done French style, including traditional melodies, uilleann pipes, tin whistles and fiddles. And in his lyrics, Renaud gives space to that other well-known Irish instrument, the gun.
Renaud Molly Malone (EMI music) 2009
Translation : Anne-Marie Harper