The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of Yael Naim's self-titled album

Yael NaimReview Snapshot: This self-titled second album from French-Israeli Yael Naim, shows off an excellent voice and some excellent compositional flare, though with much of the same from start to finish. The tracks go from folk to pop and back again, remaining rooted in acoustic guitar and piano. With some snapshots of something special dotted throughout, don’t be surprised if it ends up putting you to sleep...

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review:
Describing Yael Naim and knowing very little about her, you could be forgiven for calling her a French Feist. Both have got the husky-dreamy female vocalist bit down, both have sold their songs for use in ads, and sometimes, they both sing in French.

This is the second album from Yael, a French-Israeli singer-song-writer, released on the French independent label, Tôt ou Tard. It includes her most famous song - "New Soul", which was featured a while back in a MacBook Air ad, and gave her a top ten hit in the US charts. It really is the attention-grabber on the album, and for good reason. Being possibly the most energetic of the bunch - the remainder being more acoustic-orientated and down-tempoed, and having the added advantage of being in English, it's worth a listen in itself. It however is a slight misrepresentation of what to expect from the album. Expect something more slow-paced, pleasant and sleepy songs. Many are sung in Hebrew, which is an interesting experience.

Opener "Paris" sets up for some acoustic-folk, but a range of other influences make appearances throughout. David Donatein, himself a West Indian drummer, is Yael’s partner in crime on this album, and is responsible for the perfect accompanying backdrop to Yael’s voice. Her classical background is evident in the track "Lachlom", having all the correct interval-leaps for a successful tune. Also in Hebrew, "Levater" dabbles with a tension-building orchestral line, but never quite erupts. "Yashanti" and "Lonely" exercise Yael’s extensive vocal range – but this not exactly original stuff. Only when "Shelsha" finally breaks does it becomes a more noticeable song, highlighting a tendency for tracks to blend together in to - an admittedly pleasant - haze. However, "Too Long" is a memorable jazz-embracing pop-song, making up part of a clump of the catchier songs right at the start of the album. In quite unusual English, - "I irrigate illusions, then let them grow" - it also makes use of some basic but effective synth enough to make it a personal favourite.

The cover of Britney’s "Toxic" towards the album’s is slightly questionable. She manages to make it Bjork-esque, but deconstructed pop-songs to me just seem a little stale. It does however blend in seamlessly to the order of tracks, allowing the peaceful string of songs to hold up until the end. The final song is the disjointed waltz entitled "Endless Song of Happiness", which sounds like a merry-go-round. A pretty conclusion to a pretty, but only minorly eventful album.

Christine Cooke

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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