France's First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, sings about drugs and 30 love affairs on her new pop album released next month.
Nevertheless, Comme Si De Rien N'était (As If Nothing Had Happened) was hailed yesterday by the conservative newspaper Le Figaro as a "great success" and the "mature work" of a "now exceptional singer".
Since Le Figaro is a dedicated supporter of President Nicolas Sarkozy, its pop music criticism should perhaps be treated with some caution. Neither of Mme Sarkozy-Bruni's previous albums received such gushing treatment.
The song which has attracted much speculation is "You Are My Drug", in which the former model sings about someone "more lethal than heroin from Afghanistan, more dangerous than white Colombian [cocaine]". Mme Bruni-Sarkozy has let it be known that the lyrics were written before she met her husband.
In that case, he is also not one of the 30 lovers the First Lady refers to in another song, described by the Figaro critic, Bertrand Dicale, as one of the best where she croons: "I am a child despite my 40 years and 30 lovers."
The album – described by Le Figaro as the "most eagerly-awaited disc for decades" – does not appear in the shops until 21 July. The very early preview given to a Sarko-friendly newspaper could be interpreted as a political pre-emptive strike.
M. Dicale insists that, all political connections and connotations aside, he was smitten. The CD is "a complete success", he says. Mme Bruni-Sarkozy has a "dense and fragile voice" and she has emerged as a songwriter with a "very special melodic sense... influenced at once by [American] folk and French lyricism".
"You have the impression that you are being taken away from the folk bible [of her previous records] and getting closer to the French pop tradition but also the flamboyance of the 1960s ... In short, there is less America and more France and more Beatles."
In an interview yesterday with the magazine VSD, Mme Bruni-Sarkozy admitted she was afraid that some people would misunderstand the album. "Perceptions will not only be musical," she says. "Criticism, which is useful, risks being blurred, for good or for bad, by the fact that I am the President's wife."
The former top model – whose popularity rating in France has soared to 68 per cent, while her husband remains marooned in the high 30s and low 40s – says she has tried to separate her musical and political persona. "I have had to protect myself. I made the album in a bubble with my musical entourage."
She also confesses to having some doubts about how good the disc is. "I still have regrets. If I listened to myself, I would never stop making changes," she said. She should perhaps listen to the advice of another track from the album. "You can curse me or damn me, I don't give a stuff."