Monday, March 21, 2011




I've been
since she
lived in France, sung in French, and collaborated with musi-
cian/producer Benjamin Biolay, who's since married (and col-
laborated with
) Chiara Mastroianni. That was a long time ago.

[Image above from the album; click here for the single cover art.]

When she first signed to Blue Note, Keren Ann, who divides her
time between New York and Tel Aviv, still sang a few songs in
French, but her fourth effort for the label is an all-English affair.
(Though I've also followed Biolay's career, I've enjoyed Ms. Zei-
del's output better, since she has a greater facility with a hook.)

Fortunately, her essential charms remain intact. Every record is
slightly different than the one before, but it's hard to imagine her
selling out, as it were, or going down a completely new path--only
her mod Vidal Sassoon-like hairstyle marks a significant change.

There's a reason she shares a label with singer/songwriters like
Norah Jones and Priscilla Ahn--pretty women, pleasing melo-
dies--but I prefer her releases, since they offer more of an ed-
ge, which may not be evident at first keep listening.


My name is trouble, my first name’s a mess
No need to greet me, I’m here to confess
That if you let me hold you, I won’t hold my breath
And if you let me love you, I will love to death.


As with previous recordings, her sixth album opens with an ex-
quisite pop gem, in this case "My Name Is Trouble," in which a
wistful vocal floats over a chiming, quasi-psychedelic keyboard
pattern. It's bouyant and noirish at the same time, reflective of
the cloak and dagger cover--just substitute pistol for dagger.

There are at least six remixes on YouTube, none of which im-
proves it in any way. This Hecedemon version, however, stands
out from the rest as it slows the song down instead of speeding
it up, and replaces playful organ with stately piano. Haunting.

The rest of the album, I'm happy to say, lives up to the promise
of the single. At times, 101 recalls the French duo Air, back when
a female vocalist was part of their arsenal (see Moon Safari, Virgin
, etc.). Keren Ann's songs are more succinct--no long, in-
strumental passages--but they give off a similar luxurious glow.

"Run with You" and "Strange Weather," in particular, feature a
vibrant mix of strings, heavenly choir, and effervescent keys.


79 Star Trek episodes, 78 revolutions per minute , 77
developing nations...72 virgins, 71 solar eclipses, 70 souls
in the
house of Jacob...66 verses, 65 notorious crimes...


There's no filler, but the most distinctive material opens and
closes the set, ending with the title track, in which she counts
from 101 to 1. It's her most overt statement about her Israeli
heritage yet, though she includes pop culture references, too.

And that about sums up Keren Ann: as a student, she was prob-
ably at the top of her class, but she was also the first--maybe the
only one--to debate "Ginsberg and Korsow," sneak flasks into
school dances, and steal smokes behind the gymnasium. The
warm meets the cool, the tough meets the tender: the folk-
pop chanteuse meets the trenchcoat-clad femme fatale.

Click links for reviews of 2002's La Biographie de Lu-
ka Philipsen
, 2005's Nolita, and 2007's Keren Ann.

Endnote: Click here for an interview with Keren Ann,
who plays the Triple Door on 6/17. For more information,
click here or here. Image from Blue Note/EMI Records.

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