Coeur de Pirate – Trauma

by Jack Reid

Coeur de Pirate is the stage name of Quebecois singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin. A darling of the Francophone Canadians, it’s unsurprising that she’s managed to secure herself the exclusive soundtrack for the popular Canadian medical soap, Trauma. She is not the first; each season has a soundtrack performed by prominent chanteurs, most prominently Martha Wainwright. Now it falls to Béatrice to impress enough to burst onto the Anglophone North American mass market.

The album is a collection of covers of English language songs, so there will be little romanticisation through the sound of French that I’ve been a little guilty of in the past when listening to Coeur de Pirate. I’ve always had the underlying feeling that maybe Coeur de Pirate’s songs don’t sound quite so elegant to a native ear.

What we actually get in this case is a series of pretty mediocre piano ballad-y covers. Sure, I can easily imagine Coeur de Pirate’s bland rendition of Bon Iver’s Flume appearing over an emotionally fraught montage at the climax of a particularly harrowing tryst between Monsieur Dreamy and Madamoiselle ‘Doe-Eyed’ Resident Doctor - but it doesn’t do much for me musically. There’s nothing particularly abrasive about any of these covers, in fact there’s a distinct air of the magic being sucked out of them. Take the cover of Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine: it’s passable, with the song reimagined as a dramatic and minimal arrangement with heavy use of drum sounds and shakers - but it just doesn’t do the original justice beyond a daytime TV facsimile.

It’s a shame that Coeur de Pirate’s been inoculated this way. Sure, her independent efforts weren’t exactly the gut-churning pathos of say, Keaton Henson or even Ben Howard - but now it seems she’s even more bland.