Have you heard Francoise Hardy’s If You Listen? First released in 1972, this collection of songs sounds very 2006 — proof positive that Devendra Banhart could uncork some wild worship at Ms. Hardy’s feet just like he does at Vashti Bunyan’s. Last night and this morning, I listened to her takes on compositions by Buffy St. Marie (an exquisite “Until It’s Time for You to Go”) and Randy Newman (“I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”) and imagined her performing a concert in San Francisco. But what local venue can do her justice?
This isn’t heralded as one of Hardy’s best albums, perhaps because she largely sings in English, and perhaps because it comes near the end of her ye-ye-era popularity. (Today, when she isn’t guesting with Benjamin Biolay, she’s still a handsome solo artist: all young dudes should check her website to be turned on — and to learn how to wear a suit.) But If You Listen is dating so well it’s verging on timeless. Pristine, cool, like the Nico who covered “I’ll Keep it With Mine,” yet with a little lightness of phrasing and a lot more pitch-perfect ability, Hardy lords over the impeccable instrumentation. Her versions of Beverley Martin’s “Ocean” and “Can’t Get the One I Want”? Perfection.