Charlotte Gainsbourg may be better known as an accomplished actress than as a musician, but her singing career has also been significant. Around the same time she began acting, Gainsbourg also started singing professionally. At 13 years old, she recorded her debut, Charlotte for Ever, an album of songs written by her father, singer/songwriter/provocateur Serge Gainsbourg, that was inspired by the film he directed and in which they both starred. The infamous father-daughter duet "Lemon Incest" mirrored the sexually precocious tone of her early films, which included 1986's L'Effrontee (which won her a Cesar for Most Promising Young Actress), 1988's La Petite Voleuse, and 1991's Merci la Vie. She concentrated on acting during the '90s, appearing in movies as eclectic as Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 adaptation of Jane Eyre to 1999's La Buche, for which she won a Cesar for Best Supporting Actress. In the 2000s, though, Gainsbourg returned to music once again, performing the spoken word introduction to Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl" in 2001 and lending backing vocals to Badly Drawn Boy's 2002 album Have You Fed the Fish?
While appearing in projects such as Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep, she began work on her second solo album, enlisting Air's Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin as composers, Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon as lyricists, and Nigel Godrich as producer. The resulting record, 2006's 5:55, paid homage to her musical heritage and defined her as an artist and interpreter in her own right. It also went platinum in France, although an American release in spring 2007 didn't fare as well. Gainsbourg returned to the studio quickly, enlisting the help of another A-list producer, Beck, to help shape her newest batch of electronic pop songs. IRM appeared in Europe in late 2009, the same year that Antichrist -- a controversial horror film starring Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe -- premiered at Cannes. IRM received its American release in 2010. Issued in 2011, Stage Whisper offered up seven previously unissued studio recordings from the IRM sessions, including collaborations with Conor O'Brien of Villagers, Noah and the Whale, and Connan Mockasin, as well as 11 live cuts that were recorded during her 2010 European tour. ~ Heather Phares