Raquel Bitton: Dream a Little Dream

Internationally renowned for her uncanny ability to emulate the energy and spirit of Edith Piaf, Bitton is generally regarded as the world’s foremost interpreter of classic French pop. Her all-Piaf show, captured on the soon to be rereleased live recording Raquel Bitton Sings Edith Piaf, has earned her ovations in Toronto, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall, and has enabled her to elbow out such A-list contenders as Madonna and Celine Dion for the title role in a forthcoming Piaf film biography. But her latest studio album, Dream a Little Dream, is essentially Piaf free. Instead, she offers up 11 French hits of fairly recent vintage. Backed by a 24-piece orchestra that provides a satiny, soft jazz pillow for her lustrous voice, Bitton treads fairly safe ground with straightahead readings of such familiar standards as “Les Yeux Ouverts” (aka “Dream a Little Dream of Me”), “Unchained Melody” “Les Feuilles Mortes” (“Autumn Leaves”) and Charles Trenet’s well-trod “Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours? (I Wish You Love).” Significantly more exciting are her deeply passionate exploration of Jacques Brel’s blistering “La Chanson des Vieux Amants” and a fiery rendition of Paul Misraki’s “Sans l’Amour de Toi” (“Without Your Love”).