Seasoned traveller and musician Jil Bensenior is the frontman for the five piece French band Jil Is Lucky. Having taken up the guitar at 7 he started playing in smoke filled French bars with his brothers band at age 12. This eponymous album is a follow up to their well received 2008 EP, The 'Wanderer'. The cover of their full length debut shows all but Jil dressed as though the cast of Star Trek had just met The Village People, an indulgence some European countrymen feel far freer in embracing than our own. I think it unlikely that you would see Alex Turner dressed in a futuristic gold lame Pope suit on the cover of the next Arctic's album.
'Winter Is Over' starts off the album slowly but spontaneously bursts into life with a rousing horn section that leads nicely into J.E.S.U.S Said with its Cure like opening that introduces the 'Love Your Neighbour' themed jollity. A Jack Rabbit Slims machine gun guitar lick mixes up the toe tapping tempo of the religious riot. Next Jil takes us on a trip down Mexico way, as though accompanied by Herb Alpert & His Tijuana Brass, in the Jonathan Richman flavoured, Bongo enhanced, 'When I am Alone'. A frenzied Gypsy dance of Maracas and strings ends the splendid story of 'Judan Loews Mistake' before the brief instrumental 'Sidi Bel-Abbess'.
The second half of the album starts with a song chosen for the 2008 French Festival Of Cinema, 'I May Be Late', in which Jil declares that 'My heart is a trash-can and my head is a washing machine', is a stirring 70's infused sing-a-long. The makers of Kenzo perfume 'Flower' chose the next track, 'The Wanderer', to 'Illustrate its image'. The Eastern European scented stomp pairs a fabulous string arrangement with a great duet telling a tale of unfulfilled dreams. From here on in Jil and co treat us to a five track phase that contains his more sombre and reflective songs. From 'Without You'.........'My bed is already empty and my eyes are on fire. My Black beard is crawling up to my crazy hair do, maybe I should write folk songs without you' through to the epic and tortured 'Hovering Machine' Jil Is Lucky display more depth, expression and variation than you may have expected.
Jil is Lucky's debut album is a lively, humorous, sometimes anecdotal, very charming and likeable album..............and if you were at all worried - it's sung entirely in English. A European slant on alt-folk with traces of Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst and even Devendra Banhart is usually always going to be good, non?