Album review: Johnny Halliday ‘Mon Pays C’est …

Credited for having brought Rock’n’Roll to France, Johnny Halliday AKA Le Taulier’s 51st opus, ‘Mon Pays C’est L’amour’ released in October by Warner France, reintroduced us to what we love the most about the man: his passion for Rock, lust for life, American dreams, torn love and jailbirds. 

A potshumous album that may be lasting a mere 38 minutes but full of rock’n’Roll, ballads and intense lyrics. Most songs either written by Maxim ‘Yodelice’ Nucci or co-written with Yarol Poupand. Johnny also used authors from past albums such as Christophe Miossec ‘Back in LA’ , Pierre Jouishomme, Jérôme Attal, Pierre-Dominique Burgaud who adapted JD McPherson’s ’Let The Good Times Roll’ into ‘Made in Rock’N’Roll’ and even newcomer Boris Lanneau with ‘Tomber Encore’.

Straight off, first song ‘J’en Parlerais au Diable’ stabs us in the heart with its uncanny premonitory title that feels like a message coming from beside the grave. Full of piano, synth and strong vocals, this seems like a prelude to what is yet to come, a sombre confession to the devil, not unlike Roy Wylie Hubbard’s Country spell on ‘Conversation With The Devil’, but with a Johnny Cash undertone.

’Mon Pays C’est Lamour’ and ‘Made in Rock’n’roll’ bring Johnny back to its roots, rekindling his love of rockabilly in the 21st century followed by his first ballad ‘Pardonne Moi’, a seemingly last ode to his wife Laeticia. 

Half way through, Yvan Cassar gives us a breather with a short instrumental interlude leading us to the second part that feels more like a narrative, a story that needs to be told for prosperity.

With ‘Les Portes du Penitencier’ closed, it is now time for bluesy Rock ‘4m2’, an apparte on the carceral universe so dear to johnny’s heart.

Back to the American dream with ‘Back To LA’ where Johnny sings about girls, or more specifically about a girl that abandoned him and ’L’Amerique De William’, a country/gospel ballad paying tribute to the images of photographer William Eggleston .(Did I also hear a clin d’oeil to Elvis towards the end, I leave you the judge of that.)

‘Un Enfant Du Siècle’ thumping drums and electric guitars at the forefront keeps the pace and would be worthy of any Rock FM aficionado.

The album also contains the unexpected story of Boris Lanneau, the fan who gave a notebook filled with lyrics to Bertrand Lamblot . Out of it came ’Tomber Encore’, words filled of love and desire under a pop/rock envelope. 

Just as the intro title, the climatic ’Je Ne Suis Qu’un Homme’ concludes on a premonitory note ‘J’aurais voulu rester/pour le pire le meilleur/mais je ne suis qu’un homme’, as if, knowing what lies ahead, he is saying goodbye to his audience, the final curtain.

Having already reached Disque du Diamant in a mere 3 days ( over 630.00 physical sales ) and beating his own record achieved with ’Sang Pour Sang’, johnny’s last opus will no doubt makes it way under the Christmas tree, bringing a touch of pure and savage Rock into 2019.