Let’s Get Lost, Cyrille Aimée’s second album for Mack Avenue Records brings to light a different side of the radiant singer. After two years of dazzling audiences around the world with the joyful repertoire of It’s A Good Day, Aimée reflects on her musical and personal growth, telling us the story of a nascent love coming to full bloom. Accompanied by two guitar wunderkinds, Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeanu, as well as an Australian rhythm section (consisting of bassist Sam Anning and drummer Raj Jayaweera) so tight-knit that they are almost the same person, she adds pensive touches to her usual zest and reveals a bittersweet depth that will have listeners daydreaming for a while.
Aimée calls the album a journey through a relationship, which starts with Sondheim’s ironic salute to celibacy “Live Alone and Like It.” The legendary Broadway composer himself chose Aimée to perform this song for his Encore Series at New York’s City Center. The railroad folk rendition of “Lull In My Life,” with its gentle stream of overlapping guitars, makes us yearn for love again. “Estrellitas y Duendes” is sensuous Spanish poetry by Dominican superstar Juan Luis Guerra; imaginary travels on a lover’s body and a tribute to Aimée’s mother’s homeland of the Dominican Republic. “I wanted to sing something for my people there and make them proud,” she explains. “This is one of the first love songs I heard growing up.”
Aimée’s expressive singing conjures a spellbinding reverie on “Lazy Afternoon,” visited by the ghost of French impressionism. The mischievous “Three Little Words” is an occasion to hear drummer Jayaweera’s tasteful soloing, before he turns Edith Piaf’s “T’es Beau Tu Sais” into a tender, ethereal mambo. The moving lyrics are an ode to beauty as perceived by a blind woman. Then comes the roaring twenties crackle of the title track, “Let’s Get Lost,” and the delicate nostalgia of “Samois à Moi,” co-written with Diego Figueiredo. The latter serves as Aimée’s love letter to the place where it all started, long gone summer nights in a gypsy wonderland. “Those two songs talk about the longing I sometimes have for nature and quiet, the urge to escape the city,” reflects Aimée. “Nine More Minutes” is the sweet tale of a boy reading poetry to a girl, waiting for the next train in the wee small hours. Any resemblance to Aimée and Valeanu’s story is anything but coincidental.
“Laverne Walk” is a vibrant tribute to her swinging connection with bassist Anning: “Sam and I have the exact same feel, we just recorded it on the fly at the end of a long day,” notes Aimée. Time then expands on the breathlessly slow “That Old Feeling,” a ballad so close to her heart, Aimée was on the verge of tears in the studio. The band takes it home on the final track “Each Day,” a hymn to love and a stirring duo with singer Matt Simons. “Matt used to play saxophone in my band, and we busked on the roads of Europe, long before he became a success in pop,” states Aimée. “It meant a lot to get back together for this.”
Let’s Get Lost speaks of love in three different languages, wide ranging references, oldies and odd metered originals, yet it retains a distinct identity, like summer grass freckled with late afternoon sun. Aimée and her band weave confidently from one musical region to the next, and Valeanu’s guitar arrangements always underscore the meaning of every word in uncontrived and subtle fashion. “This album owes a lot to him,” Aimée adamantly states. Moignard is full of swagger and humor, and Fab Dupont’s production and sense of form brings every refinement to the forefront. “Fab helped us transition from being a live band to really shaping the songs for the studio.” With a tightly knit artistic team, and a dizzying momentum, Cyrille Aimée takes us on a thoughtful promenade and it seems there’s much left to discover about her.
Aimée was primarily raised in France by a French-Dominican parentage. As a curious child in Samois-sur-Seine, she would sneak out of her bedroom window to wander into the nearby gypsy encampments filled with those attending the annual Django Reinhardt Festival. She quickly fell in love with gypsy music and way of life and in the years later she would sing on street corners with musician friends while traveling across Europe. While in the midst of one such odyssey, she found herself at the Montreux Jazz Festival, where she won first prize in the 2007 vocal competition—which included the financing of her first self-produced album.
When Aimée auditioned for the French version of American Idol, she became a finalist. Informed she would have to sing only what she was told, her gypsy spirit rebelled—and in what was a cause célèbre she walked from the competition.
Soon after, Cyrille moved to the states and went on to be a finalist in the legendary Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2010, before winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012. Aimée’s talents recently caught the attention of Stephen Sondheim, who cast her in an Encore Special Presentation starring Bernadette Peters at New York City’s City Center in November 2013.