Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Looking Back at Keren Ann

In my post about Keren Ann's upcoming record, I referenced Tablet, so here are the CD reviews in question. Both are from 2005, Tablet's final year.

Keren Ann, Nolita, Metro Blue/Blue Note (B+)

One year after her stunning English-language debut, Not Going Anywhere, French singer/songwriter Keren Ann returns with a quieter, more intimate affair. Recorded in Paris and New York—"Nolita" is North of Little Italy—the lyrics are in French and English. Keren Ann’s approach is, as ever, subtle and sophisticated, but never stuffy. Once upon a time, Nick Drake traveled to France to record with Fran├žois Hardy, to whom Keren Ann has often been compared, but Drake was lost in one of his famous funks and nothing came of it. Nolita sounds like what could've resulted from that should've-been-historical meeting.

Lady & Bird, Lady & Bird, Capitol-EMI [France] (A-)

Keren Ann's latest album, Nolita, is among her best. That said, I like Lady & Bird, a concept collaboration with Iceland's Bardi Johannson, even better. It has the lovely vocals one would expect from Ms. Zeidel blended with some appealing weirdness, like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Night of the Hunter—both musically and thematically. That said, I don't quite "get" the concept; something about two lost children named Lady and Bird, but the tunes are great and the covers, "Stephanie Says" and "Suicide is Painless" (the theme from M*A*S*H), seal the deal.

Endnote: From time to time I'll continue to excavate my Tablet reviews and Wire interviews, since they're either not on-line or hard-to-find. Click the Lady & Bird link above to sample a track from the album (via YouTube). Keren Ann image from Le Plan.

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