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Saturday, June 21, 2008

CD Review: Yael Naim - Yael Naim

Yael Naim (with David Donatien) – New Soul
2008, Atlantic Records

Born in Paris and raised near Tel Aviv, Yael Naim has had quite the unusual path to where she stands today. From movie and stage work to a stint in the Israeli army, Yael Naim has a wealth of life experience to draw on. Add to that a classical education and acquired loves of pop, jazz and folk, and you have quite the personal melting pot for great art. On her self-titled CD Yael Naim creates, with the help of David Donatien, a rich musical tapestry against which she projects stories of beauty, vulnerability and hope.

I can not comment on the lyric content of the album, as most of it is in Hebrew (which I do not speak), but most everyone out there has heard one song from this album. New Soul was used by Apple in their MacBook Air commercial campaign. The music here is beautiful and sparse. Much of the instrumentation is minimalist and focus on supporting the melody with the barest of structure. The occasional horn arrangement adds layers of beauty and color, even where the lyrics are out of my reach. Levater is a prime example of this, and is an absolute must-hear. Ditto Shelcha.

Lonely may be the most moving song on the album, with the musical framework suggesting the theme as much as the lyrics. Other highlights include Far Far, 7 Baboker and Toxic. The mood and elemental nature of the songs on Yael Naim’s self-titled CD suggest a lonely, distant beauty, brought closer for a time by the voice of the singer, but eternally just out of reach. This is great work.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

If you want to learn more about Yael Naim you can check out Yael Naim is available through and most major retailers.

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