From the Bardot-like cover shot of a windswept and gorgeous Françoise Hardy to the oddly chipper title, this 1965 U.S. debut (originally released on the proto-world music label Four Corners) is clearly pitched at the adventurous edge of the U.S. pop market, pitching Hardy as the Gallic Petula Clark. (Clark was, unbeknownst to the U.S. market at the time, making terrific French-language pop records herself at the time.) Complicating this, of course, is the fact that Hardy's music, for all its catchiness, is stripped down to its barest essentials -- acoustic and electric guitar, bass, minimalist drums, very little else -- and Hardy herself sings her (mostly self-penned) lyrics in an attractive but chilly drop-dead monotone that's far removed from the perkiness of almost every other female singer (minus Nico and Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las) of the '60s. Even the perkier tunes, like the enormous French hit single "Tous les Garcons et les Filles," have a measured, restrained quality. The Yeh-Yeh Girl From Paris is an outstanding record, but it's the '60s pop equivalent of Shaker furniture: free of ornamentation and exquisitely simple.
The Yeh-Yeh Girl from Paris
The Yeh-Yeh Girl from Paris Review
by Stewart Mason