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august 2024




"How do you write yourself when you're in your twenties? / How do you describe yourself when you hardly know each other?" she asks herself at the start of the album. But the young woman is not one to cloak herself in mystery or cultivate secrecy. In any case, La vingtaine and its eleven songs are the best way to unearth truths about her, and at the same time to allow her to identify with herself, as the album is almost essentially a self-portrait. When you tune in to Mentissa on a daily basis, you're guaranteed to be in the presence of someone with a sparkling liveliness, salvific spontaneity, voluble verbiage and instant likability. She grew up in the suburbs of Brussels, devoured the Disney Channel, danced a lot and imagined herself as a cheerleader, until she came across the series Glee at the age of twelve, a revelation. Her bedroom was her first refuge for singing, her mother her first clairvoyant spectator. Three years later, she took part in The Voice KidsBelgium and brought home the trophy.

Enthralled by chance, Mentissa didn't just welcome it, she demanded it: at first, she flatly refused when a casting agent offered her the chance to appear in the adult French version of the same TV talent show. The rest is history: a place in the 2021 edition and a brilliant connection with Vianney, her coach who is so involved in her adventure. The two of them bonded with an immediate affinity, an intimate alignment, a similar state of mind and a passion for each other. He took her under his wing, recording a cover of Axelle Red (Parce que c'est toi on the reissue of the album N'attendons pas). And then, without her even knowing it, Et Bam, a custom-written offering. Mentiss will perform this song on all the dates of Vianney's Zenith tour, and on stage at the Accor Hotel Arena. Mentissal's first appearance in front of a massive audience, and already a confounding sense of satisfaction. This song, vibrant and with a crescendo of intensity, personal and a mirror effect of her trajectory, is a real launch into orbit for the twenty-three-year-old Belgian singer (thirty million streams).

At the top of her pantheon sits Adele, followed by Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie and Olivia Rodrigo. She wanted to inject this English pop sound into her album, making it collide with French variety.  Two work sessions were planned in London, where she collaborated with Eg White, a musician-producer with a CV to make the day swoon (Adele, Sam Smith, Céline Dion, Kylie Minogue...) and Blair Mackichan (Sia's The Greatest, Amel Bent's Ma philosophie). The second session proved decisive, with Mentissa overcoming her fear of writing in French. Mentissa, who is also a composer and says she "fiddles" with her guitar, is not just an interpreter of the words of Joseph Kamel, Vincha, LaurentLamarca and Vianney. Breath, panache, delicacy. Mentissa toggles between grand orchestral flights and heartbreaking ballads. Always driven by a liberating force and her powerful, intimate, enlightened voice, capable of making the finest nuances intelligible. Here, she summons up her questions, her bearings, her bonds, her fears. Frontal and heartbreaking when she tackles the weight complex and guilty judgments in Balance (Toi qui sais que je m'affame/Pour un chiffre à deux larmes/Qui n'est jamaiscomme il faut/D'en bas tu me regardes...). Lucid, boosted by a pop-soul rhythm, as she takes stock of a hurried society fueled by urgency and zapping (Attendez-moi). Tenderness is diffused in the nursery rhyme-like address to her two brothers (Petit prince). Or this heart that will never stop oscillating between its two home towns (Paris-Bruxelles), a title that could be seen as an extension of Et Bam. Then there's the birth of an idyll projected into the future (Premier janvier), the relationship with simplicity and the little ordinary things (Exceptionnel), the invitation to let go mentally (Le bruit du silence), as well as two more detached tracks about the incompatibility of moods in a couple (Prends-moi la tête and its galloping melody) and the bite of a woman cheated on (Mamma mia, a spirited song signed by Vianney).   Like a profession of faith, she proclaims in the chorus of La Vingtaine: "Faut qu'je vive encore". Let her know, too, that she's already got some solid trump cards up her sleeve for a serene existence.