Strong French Emotions
"The French chanson isn't heard that often, at least not in our part of the world, but for those of us who've experienced the mid 1900s, have heard it. It often brings us back to a time when Europe was still something else, with medialized, less businesswise, less globalized. To a time when French music was different from other European countrie's cultures. When the songs rose from the depths of the streets, the bars and the gutters and carried a message of the French soul. When the melancholy songs and waltzes, their quick and sometimes irregular rhythm and tone, switching between major and minor, carried so much sorrow and joy. French song is emotions and the greatest of them all is love. To many people, French culture is the culture of love.
'Romance' performed on Valentine's Day has love as a loose theme but is foremost a celebration of artists like Piaf, Brel and Aznavour. Stevens isn´t A Piaf copy and doesn't try to be one either.
Her voice is deep and rich. She performs fully with the drama and intensity that this culture of expression demands. Together with excellent pianist Bjarne Löwdin, she carries the phrases, stretches the tempo and frees herself from it. Like in the very soft, whispering beginning of 'La Valse a Mille Temps' that carefully escalates like the carousel in the song. They know how to deliver a quick, smooth and captivating waltz.
They know what they want to convey with each song, so the songs become little, contained theater pieces, little novels. It's good that the songs are sung in Swedish, at least the ones with the richest lyrics, but in order to get their identity they should be sung in French. Olivia Stevens interprets 'La Vie en Rose' in a very Piaf-like way, and that's how it should be. The greatest voice of chanson, next to the human, is the accordion and Bjarne Löwdin's has the flowing energy that makes your body sway to the wellknown waltz 'Pigalle' and gives him extra applause when he takes up 'Under Paris skies' the city's signature song.
The little sketches and anecdotes between the songs do not treat love as something fragile and sad, as a contrast they're pretty hilarious - perhaps to ensure that the program doesn't become too somber. But there's no risk of that. This music is, at least for me, more of an era than anything else; an ambiance that sometimes brings the listener to the happy bars where the wine flowes and everybody's singing and dancing, to the great darkness and paralysis when love didn't keep its promises.
They transport us to the strong emotions in all directions, that many of us associate with France and especially Paris, in a time when the artist quarters still hadn't given way for office buildings."
Romantic emotions in many guises
"Olivia Stevens embraced little Paris in a loving way with her divine voice and fantastic presence.
She's dressed in a romantic red dress, carries a red rose and has a warming smile on her lips. The singer Olivia Stevens' show romance invited the audience to a loving evening at Vänerborgs theatre. A fantastic love letter to everything French.
With the help of Bjarne Löwdin, on piano and accordion, she takes the audience to France, while inviting French icons like Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf.
A dance along the streets of Paris, a twirling ride in a carousel and a trip to the sun for those whove grown tired of the cold and the snow. But also an journey inward, towards desperate despair and bubbling joy.
Alternately soft and beautiful, then crazy and playful – without logic and any inhibitions. Just like the many faces and shapes of love.
This isn't just a beautiful consert but an entertaining show that embraces you and is present. Olivia Stevens brought true, French love to little Paris."