Nathalie Simard – Au Maximum (1990)

Without meaning to be reductive, Nathalie Simard could be described as the Marie Osmond of Quebec popular culture, making an aggressive play for a mainstream respectability here after striking out of her own without brother Rene for the first time. In retrospect there’s no denying that the early-1990s adult contemporary pop sound is dated and there are some clumsy lyrics here and there. But there’s a solid handful of strong songs throughout “Au Maximum,” not the least of which is “A Ton Depart,” a haunting, melancholy ballad about the pain and confusion that can accompany the maturing process. In addition, Simard has a lovely, strong voice and makes an assertive grab for individuality and independence here, emerging with a flawed but infectiously sincere effort.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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