Sally Folk first burst onto the music scene in 2010 with an English-language album variously inspired by The Ronettes, The Supremes, Cher and 1960s retro-chic style that instantly made her a Quebec cousin of Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Here she comes for another run four years later, this time with a self-titled album in French, her first language.

“The move to French was quite natural,” the artist explains. “I already had a few songs in English, and my manager suggested I translate one, just to see. You don’t write the same way in French. The work on metaphors and word sounds is quite different. Words also often have several meanings, which makes for interesting connotations. In English, you can repeat the work baby four times in a row and people don’t mind. Writing in a new language is like switching from physics to chemistry. I’m not saying I’m never going to go back to English, but I certainly added a nice new colour to my palette.”

Sally Folk’s ease with music business matters is a thing of beauty in itself, with her good-time attitude, her uncanny ability to put herself centre stage, her curiosity, and the way she can attract the best professional support. “Earlier in my life, I was a businesswoman,” the former co-owner of Montreal’s Sofa Bar explains. “So I was already used to navigating in the music sphere, in the world of nightclubs.” Then, one day, she decided to sell her shares and take off to a place where she could satisfy her craving for writing, composing and performing songs.

“Male-female relationships are an endless topic. I find real inspiration in uncomfortable love relationships.”

She was able to finance her first album without outside help, but barely. “It cost me a fortune, I spent my last penny… But at some point, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Do I want to make another album or buy a house?’” Then came Entourage, the production company behind the success of Annie Villeneuve, Boom Desjardins, Stéphanie Bédard and Marianna Mazza. “Getting Entourage to look after my career gave me the time I needed to concentrate on my music. When I was managing the whole thing by myself, the only break I was getting was when I could climb on the stage and let it all hang out. I’m glad I went through that because it is helping me understand the chain of support artists need. Besides, I continue to be interested in the production side of the music business, and I’m considering a move in that direction at some point. I would love to help performers blossom. It’s a project I keep on the back burner.”

Looking like a character straight out of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction with her mischievous air, black bangs and red lipstick matching her fingernails, Sally Folk is Sophia D’Aragon’s alter ego. “It’s more than just a fictional character. The stories I tell are mine. The Sally Folk femme fatale aura that I add to it with chic clothes and makeup allows me to express myself. There is a wild side to every woman. Sally is an extension of my own personality.”

Far from being superficial, Sally’s lyrics lead her listeners to troubled waters where people fall out of love, infidelity leads to happiness, women are not afraid of being seductive, and drop-dead gorgeous men patronize strip clubs. Come to the cabaret! “Male-female relationships are an endless topic,” she marvels. “I find real inspiration in uncomfortable love relationships.” She might add that, as inspiration material goes, her own fictional life and that of her girlfriends provide her with an embarrassment of riches.

Musically, her album adds touches of Americana to superb brass and string arrangements by Michel Dagenais (Jean Leloup, Marc Déry, Breastfeeders), who produced her earlier album and is featured on this one both as a producer and performer. “I told him I was looking for new sounds for this one,” she recalls. Having just completed the recording of Daniel Bélanger’s superb new country-lyrical album Chic de ville, Dagenais used similar colours in Sally Folk’s new opus, and Bélanger himself is even featured as a performer on one track (“Les hommes du quartier”). ”That’s very precious,” Sally explains. ”Another thing I learned in my previous life as a businesswoman is that you don’t tamper with a winning formula. Sally Folk is my persona, but she also means the solid partners I can build things with. I feel that this project is taking off, and it’s exciting.”

The chances are that Sally Folk’s French-language songs will open new doors for her in the large summer festivals in Montreal, across Quebec and possibly in Europe as well. “That’s what I’m really hoping for because my music is meant to be shared with as many people as possible. When I’m on the stage, I’m living life 1000 percent. That’s where it all makes sense.”