A lot has been written about the Indonesian singer. Some people have mentioned a fairytale to explain the rise of a young music-loving girl who became a superstar in the country of her birth before striking out to conquer France and Europe when she was only about 20. Following a stream of hits in French, English and Indonesian (and her massive international hit Snow On The Sahara), she has now sold over 2 million records in just a few years. Her albums have been released in 35 countries and she has made the Top 5 in the European charts and the Top 20 of the US Billboard charts. Add to this a wide-ranging list of prizes and honours including a World Music Awards performance, giving the Christmas concert at the Vatican in the presence of Pope John Paul II, an interview with CNN in New York and her extremely prestigious nomination as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France. Quite simply, Anggun is the Asian artist who has sold the most records outside Asia, without doubt one of the most famous Asian stars internationally.
People have also often listed the duets the woman has been involved in. Her eclectic musical tastes make her feel just as comfortable singing with Peter Gabriel, Michael Bolton, Julio Iglesias, Bryan Adams and Zucchero as with DJ Cam, Laurent Wolf and Pras from The Fugees. Her eclectic taste in movies have seen her perform the theme tune for American blockbusters (The #1 US box office movie The Transporter II) ; arthouse films (Open Hearts directed by Academy Awards winner Susanne Bier) and even the soundtrack to the latest feature film by legendary French director Claude Lelouch (Ces Amours-là).
With each passing year and album, she has kept surprising us and kept reinventing herself through new artistic projects and her own personal development. Echoes, in a sense, sums up this transformation, returning to the pop sound that made her name, but this time with new collaborators. The origins of this album are to be found in the coming together of two teams familiar with success: Gioacchino and Pierre Jaconelli on the one hand, and the duo of Jean-Pierre Pilot and William Rousseau on the other. Anggun has been involved in every step of the making of Echoes. She has written the lyrics of every song, making this album probably her most personal to date.
“I love her timbre. I’d been wanting to work with her for a while,” explains Giacchino, who has already collaborated with the biggest French stars, and who is currently working on Celine Dion’s upcoming new album. “I found in her the very same depth of personality that I liked about her voice.” This profoundness is felt in the Irish-influenced smash hit single Only Love, which deals with the quest for true and unconditional love. A Stranger timidly speaks of the loneliness and fear of the unknown that were often a feature of the singer’s constant moving around. Whereas a few years ago Anggun still sang of exile as a painful experience, now she knows where she is headed, as she has accepted that her destiny will always be bound up with travelling. Year of the Snake is a restrained song that gives the thoughts of a woman remembering painful momentsof her life. And yet, without any excess exoticism or pointless clichés, you find subtle traces of the singer’s Indonesian roots via the various subjects she tackles. Eternal talks of accepting the death of a loved one, without seeking to squeeze a tear out of the listener at any cost. On the other hand, the extremely sensual Rollercoaster, composed by Axel Bauer, conjures up the passion and sense of drama that can be part of the singer’s life aswell.
Jean-Pierre Pilot and William Rousseau were coming off the back of major successes in France when they met Anggun. “What surprised us was the contrast between the simple, fun-loving woman we had in front of us and the image of the superstar diva we know from her videos or live performances. The two personalities coexist inside her in perfect harmony,” William Rousseau explains. “As a result, we were keen to explore her more private side without going off into completely pared-down musical style.” Many women will identify with the themes of the album: an upbeat girl’s power message in Weapons, the weariness of My Addiction or the acceptance of who we really are in Impossible. Anggun reveals herself to be both mischievous and totally fulfilled. Yet the power of the melodies does not supplant the emotion, as illustrated by the bittersweet Buy me happiness and the discreet Silent vow.
Anggun is offering exclusive bonus tracks in this new album: Count on me, Sorry and the hypnotic song Always You produced by German electro-pop superstar Schiller, taken from the artist’s latest album which has reached the #1 spot in the German Album Charts and went Gold a few weeks after its release.
Sometimes fatale, sometimes disappointed, often amorous and always strong, Anggun sings about the woman she was and above all about the woman she is today. Neither completely the same nor completely someone else, with Echoes she gives us her most personal and paradoxically most universal album: the Echoes of an artist who is no longer torn between two cultures – her heartland of Indonesia and her adoptive country France; she has managed to find an equilibrium between these two worlds and to make the very best of them.