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CD REVIEW

Daphne “Carmin”

by Yung-hsiang Kao

Though branded the French Bjork, 33-year-old Daphne’s claim to fame in Japan comes from singing the theme song in a commercial for Kanebo hair products. But “La Cle,” a bonus track on the Japanese release of her second album, “Carmin,” reveals a sultry, sexy sound a million miles away from Iceland’s princess of kook-pop.

Written soon after her heavily programmed, synthesizer- laden 2005 debut “L’Emeraud,” “Carmin” shows Daphne expanding her scope with some of the tracks backed by an orchestra. One need not understand any of the three languages she sings in (French, Spanish, English) to realize that she has a special voice, even on a throwaway track such as “Abracadabra,” a vocal exercise accompanied by a hodgepodge of strings, Dixieland romps and dreaminess. Elsewhere, her raspy breathiness matches the fluidity of the accompanying piano on lead track “Musicamor.”

Daphne is at her best when she sings with a quavering vulnerability that is almost heart wrenching, as on “Les Phenix” and “Le Petit Navire.” It is these songs that make the album worth a listen for those willing to indulge a siren singing her enchantments.