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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block with the latest musical stylings from Carla Bruni, also known as the first lady of France.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CARLA BRUNI (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

BLOCK: This is a song from Bruni's new CD. It's out today, titled "Comme Si De Rien N'etait," "As If Nothing Had Happened." It's the third album from the Italian-born heiress turned-supermodel, turned-chanteuse, turned-the first lady. She married French president Nicolas Sarkozy in February.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. BRUNI: (Singing in foreign language)

BLOCK: The French political writer Anne Elisabeth Moutet has been listening to the French first lady's latest musical offering. She writes for the Sunday Telegraph and joins us from Paris.

And Ms. Moutet, how has this CD been received in France so far?

Ms. ANNE ELISABETH MOUTET (Writer, Sunday Telegraph): Very well. With the (unintelligible) that some reviewers who gave her previous recordings good reviews say, well, it's always difficult to review positively because she is the president's wife.

BLOCK: So that adds a layer of complication for her as a musician?

Ms. MOUTET: She has said that. She said that there will be people who do not like her record, not based on music but based on who she is now.

BLOCK: There's one song on the CD called "Ta Tienne," and she's talking about her love, presumably the French president. And there's one line in particular where she says, I give you my body, my soul, and my chrysanthemum.

(Soundbite of song "Ta Tienne")

Ms. BRUNI: (Singing in foreign language)

BLOCK: Does the word chrysanthemum have any particular meaning in French that we should know about?

Ms. MOUTET: It could possibly mean what you're strongly hinting at, and you can get away with this in France. People do not, you know, they don't raise an eyebrow to things like that.

BLOCK: She is, though, now the wife of the French president. You don't think that's bringing a certain level of scrutiny to lyrics like this?

Ms. MOUTET: No, I wouldn't so much. I mean, there's another song in which she talks about her 30 lovers. We knew that she had a past life. The French do not mind women having a past life; they actually think they're more interesting that way. They think that it adds to their depth.

BLOCK: You're talking about the song "Je Suis Une Enfant," "I Am a Child," where she says, despite my 40 years, despite my 30 lovers, I am still a child, a little girl.

Ms. MOUTET: Oh, but wouldn't this apply to many women of her age? I know from experience I think it would.

BLOCK: And in her case, those 30 lovers - count among them Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton.

Ms. MOUTET: And Donald Trump and a couple of others. You know, hats off to her. If she were a man, the question would not arise.

BLOCK: We should remember that the former French president, Francois Mitterrand, at his funeral were his wife and his mistress, side by side.

Ms. MOUTET: And the various children he had from those women. And, again, the reaction of the French was, well, you know, these things happen in this country.

BLOCK: You hear this phrase mentioned, the Carla effect - I don't know if you see that phrase in French newspapers as well - but the effect that she's having on her husband's approval ratings, which have been terribly, terribly low.

Ms. MOUTET: She has been incredibly good for him on several levels. First of all, he's happy. And everybody who works for him - and he's a workaholic. I mean, he's somebody who exhausts people who are used to working very hard. And they like it better when, you know, he works just as hard, but at least he's happy while doing it. And that's one level.

She has been fantastic for his image because she is intelligent, she is extremely well mannered. And the third aspect is that she is actually a woman who comes from the left, who gives good advice to her husband, who has said to her husband things like, you know, you don't need to get so uptight about this, or you should listen to this more. And that's - you know, I haven't heard anyone say that she has given him, so far, a bad piece of advice. And, you know, he's very lucky in that.

BLOCK: Is there any precedent for this, not for a French first lady being a singer, a popular singer, but for a French first lady being so open, so out there talking about her beer belly, the fact that she's not pregnant, but she just likes beer a little too much?

Ms. MOUTET: No, but we are living in a different time, and she can get away with it because she has a sort of aristocratic element to her that people respond to very well. In that you - you know, she's not coy, she's not mealy-mouthed. The one person in an entirely different context I could compare her to would be Napoleon's first wife, Josephine - an intelligent woman with a past, and Josephine was a widow who counted a great deal for her husband and who had her own independence and her interests in life.

BLOCK: Well, Anne Elisabeth Moutet, it's been great talking with you. Thanks so much.

Ms. MOUTET: Thank you.

BLOCK: Anne Elisabeth Moutet writes about French politics for the Sunday Telegraph and the Weekly Standard. She was talking with us about the new CD from French first lady Carla Bruni titled "Comme Si De Rien N'etait."

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