The title of Celine Dion’s new album, 1Fille & 4 Types, is French for ”one girl and four guys,” and the cover photo depicts Dion, avec a T-shirt and stylishly spiky coif, hanging with what looks like a graying grunge band. The presentation cries out ”empress of overkill goes alt-rock,” but the truth is much less engaging. Released with far less of a to-do than accompanied her current Vegas engagement, the French-language ”1 Fille & 4 Types” does stand as a marked departure from her usual fare. Forsaking orchestras and pop gloss, she and her ”guys” offer up reverby twang in ”Tout l’Or des Hommes” (”All the Men’s Gold”), a slide-guitar romp in ”Ne Bouge Pas” (”Don’t Change”), and enough mopey, semi-unplugged arrangements to make you think they just discovered Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. For her part, Dion sounds more restrained than on her English-language extravaganzas.
But what promises to be one of the year’s most perverse listening experiences wimps out. The album falls victim to the same bathetic love songs that cripple every Dion project, and the quasi-adventurous production gives way to drippy folk-pop balladry. Note to Dion: Next time, keep the cover, rename the band Fountains of Quebec, plug the guitars back in, and unleash your inner rock child — assuming you actually have one.