It’s no secret that Joyce Jonathan’s third album is autobiographical in part. In part only, because, drawing from her life, she sets out to explore feelings and experiences that her friends and family also share, that we all can share.
Nevertheless, Joyce kept a record of the day each song came to her, dating them accordingly in the leaflet for this new album. The earlier songs trace back to February 2014, the most recent ones were written in July 2015. “This is not a personal diary,” she says, “it’s more like a logbook. Or a journal of my feelings.” In twelve songs, she outlines a breakup story, from the initial shock to the eventual recovery, with each and every all-too-familiar stage in between. Maybe this is what distinguishes the most Joyce Jonathan from some of her great elders: she knows she won’t die from it, and so she won’t idly watch herself sink to the bottom, she won’t let herself be mesmerized by grand cries of suffering. On the contrary, she delves into her feelings with impeccable precision and sincerity, exploring pain, resentment, hope, resilience, rebound, detachment... “I went through all the stages of a breakup: feeling broken, stupid, disrespected then disrespectful, and afterwards, pride, overcoming it all...”
So everything she sings is true in her first single from the upcoming LP: “Le bonheur c'est pas le but mais le moyen / Le bonheur c'est pas la chute, mais le chemin” [“Happiness is not the goal but the means / Happiness is not the fall but the path”]. Sort of a mantra of the day, that came to her in the beginning of summer last year, and that was written like all her songs, “always on the very edge; right before I write, I have to feel extremely well or extremely bad.”
Both music and lyrics come from emotional hurricanes, like Je plonge [“I dive”], which was written and composed on a long-distance flight, without a guitar or a piano, to claim the need to break free from the addiction-addled cycle of destruction and reconstruction: “Écoute ton corps / Ne lui fais pas de tort / Quand tout est calme / Parfois on se repose” [“Listen to your body / Don’t bring harm to it / When everything is calm / Sometimes we can rest”]. Or like the ambiguous yet so true feelings of Sans toi [“Without you”]: “Ça me rend triste d'être heureuse / Je sais que ça n’se dit pas / Ça me rend triste d'être heureuse sans toi” [“It makes me sad to be happy / I know I ain’t supposed to say so / It makes me sad to be happy without you”]. Or the self-confidence boost of Je me jette à l’eau [“I’m taking the plunge”], the last song written for this album: “Ça y est j'me jette à l'eau / Le regard, vers le haut / Pour y croire à nouveau / Je repars / Oh, j'me jette à l'eau” [“That’s it, I’m taking the plunge / Looking up to the sky / To believe in it again / I start anew / Oh, I’m taking the plunge”]...
Here and there, to fine-tune the lyrics or the music, she collaborated with Jérémie Kisling, Edgar Ficat, Tom Grafin, Renaud Rebillot, Fabien Nataf and Ycare. And she experienced moments of perfect harmony with Vianney, in her latest “friendship at first sight”. Together, they wrote, composed and sang Les Filles d’aujourd’hui [“Today’s girls”], a tune that was born “coming back from a weekend during which I said ‘no’ to a boy. To finish the song with Vianney was an absolutely perfect moment.” One can tell immediately, for in the song Joyce confesses and reveals so much of her –and of today’s girls, indeed: “Elles sont énervantes les filles d'aujourd'hui / Et malheureusement j'en fais partie / Elles sont trop hésitantes les filles d'aujourd'hui / Elles ne savent pas ce qu'elles veulent, elles ne savent pas dire oui” [“Today’s girls are tiresome / And unfortunately I’m one of them / Today’s girls are too hesitant / They don’t know what they want, they don’t know how to say ‘yes’.”]
Therein lies Joyce Jonathan’s paradox: she is “modest in everyday life, but not in [her] songs.” When they produced the album, Antoine Gaillet and Sirius carefully chiseled it to look like her, straightforward yet secret, brisk yet sensitive... The title for the album comes from a song about dearth of love and, very organically, those few sad words became a manifesto of vital energy and heartthrob. For sure, there is a beautiful “place for her,” a remarkable, radiant, obvious place. A warm and welcoming one.
And she knows it is vast as well. Indeed, after France, Joyce Jonathan is going to continue her journey in China, she is releasing Une place pour moi there in the spring, with several songs translated in Mandarin Chinese. Her knowledge of the language constitutes a decisive asset in one of the largest and most closed-off country in the whole world, a country that only allows ten foreign music albums per year. Joyce will face TV shows with 300 million people audiences, and experience the fervor of Chinese people at live shows, as well as their unconditional love for France, the country of romance...
All of this also matches well with the young brunette with deep brown eyes: never stop going far, when she travels, when she feels, when she sings... and never stop going further, in her career, in a loving heart, on the French singer-songwriter scene. To create, to find, to inhabit her place –a place for her.