Cécile McLorin Salvant has announced her latest album Mélusine, a mix of originals and interpretations of songs dating as far back as the 12th century.
The new recording arrives just over a year after her critically acclaimed Ghost Song, which earned two Grammy nominations.
Mélusine includes five original songs and nine rearrangements, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English and Haitian Kreyòl.
Watch the official video for Salvant’s version of the Michael Lambert composition D’un feu secret:
The selection of songs on the album tells the story of the European folkloric legend of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday as a result of a childhood curse by her mother. Mélusine later agrees to marry Raymondin on the condition that he never see her on Saturdays. He agrees but is ultimately convinced by his brother to break his promise, piercing his wife’s door with his sword and finding her naked in the bath, half snake, half woman. When she catches him spying on her, she turns into a dragon and flies out of the window, only to reappear every time one of her descendants is on their deathbed.
“I think what I try to do is more akin to revealing secrets than telling stories,” Salvant says. “Revealing secrets is also the snake’s role in the Garden [of Eden]. The snake brings secrets, knowledge, pain, and mayhem.”
She continues: “The story of Mélusine is also the story of the destructive power of the gaze. Raymondin’s sword pierces a hole into her iron door. His gaze does, too. The gaze is transformative and combustible. She sees that he is secretly seeing her. Her secret is revealed. This double gaze turns her into a dragon. She can now breathe fire.”
Here’s the track listing:
- Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent?
- La route enchantée
- Il m’a vue nue
- Dites moi que je suis belle
- Petite musique terrienne
- D’un feu secret
- Le temps est assassin
- Domna N’Almucs
- Dame Iseut
Cécile McLorin Salvant’s Mélusine is out March 24, 2023, via Nonesuch.