Over the years, Lou Doillon has been tagged with many fawning monikers, the most particular and imprecise among them being “It Girl.” The French star is a multi-hyphenate (singer, actor, model) and has a fabled pedigree (her mother is Jane Birkin; her half-sister is Charlotte Gainsbourg), all viable factors why breathless fashion magazines are beside themselves to categorize her je ne sais quoi as “It.” And she has a distinct ethereal quality to her that is immediately disarming, but after few moments in her presence it became clear that she’s too smart for it all, a thoughtful and broad-minded woman who seems, at her essence, unafraid.
Doillon visited the Jezebel offices last week on the occasion of her second album, Lay Low, being released in the US. It was on the horizon of Valentine’s Day so we already had love on the brain (however fraught!), but also the album is a resonant document of heartbreak at 30 and the introspection that follows it, conveyed dreamily thorough electric soul and torch songs invoking far-flung nightclubs at 2 a.m. Her voice is husky, smoky and low, the kind of alto that can convey a world-weariness without a touch of cynicism or fragility, and if the tone of it brings whiskey to mind, she’s right there with you: “One, two, three, four, five coffees, no he still hasn’t called me,” she mourns on “Weekender Baby.” “Six, seven, eight, nine whiskeys, I know he won’t.”
Doillon seemed much, much happier than that song the day she stopped by, and her approach to love took on philosophical underpinnings. The best way to deal with heartbreak, she said, “is to embrace it, to surrender to it, because it’s all right and it makes you a better person to let it destroy you. My grandfather used to say, ‘No one’s dead yet,’” she laughed. “The worst drama in life is death. The second drama in life is heartbreak. The worst ones are the ones that have to do with passion. I do believe that passion is a projection and love is a projection, when you fall in love with people who are mysterious enough for you to project whatever you needed to project. Those are the worst heartbreaks because it was all a fantasy anyway. You’re closer to a junkie at that point, so you might as well surrender to [the heartbreak].”
She is wise, she is thoughtful, she is resolute, and that’s all fully present in the music, which has a timelessness about it, as well as a patina of experience. On “Where to Start,” a sock-hop slow burner, she intones, “I gotta stop this obsession... I gotta let the film roll without me.” Above, she discusses the album, inspires us to open our hearts, and sings a little bit until we pass out.
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