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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yael Meyer - Everything Will Be Alright

Yael Meyer - Everything Will Be Alright
2011, KLI Records

Santiago de Chile native Yael Meyer was drawn to music at a young age. She began studying at a classical conservatory at the age of 5, and at 18, Meyer set her sights on Boston and the Berklee College of Music. Unlike to many of her contemporaries, Meyer has always seemed to understand that the space between the notes is as important to melody and composition as the notes themselves. Meyer writes songs blending a level of complexity and subtle finesse that’s rare in modern music. Meyer recently released Everything Will Be Alight, a sometimes brilliant collection of brilliantly understated songs.

Everything Will Be Alright is as optimistic as its name. Yael Meyer has a sweet and light quality to her voice that makes it difficult not to play along. Kicking things off with "Fire", Meyer strikes a catchy, simple pop pose. It's a solid start, catchy but subtly so. "Backbone" is a love song sung with the cadence and feel of a lullaby. The all-electronic arrangement casts an ethereal cloud on which Meyer's voice simply floats, the perfect fit for the moment. "Used To Be" is a catchy and upbeat song about change and regret. The tempo and energy suggest bright intentions, but there's a quiet melancholy laced through the song that can catch you by surprise. Meyer keeps the vibe going with the soul-searcher "I Wonder How". Exploring her own inability to give her heart completely, Meyer grabs a particularly vulnerable moment, steeped in gentle neurosis, that's remarkably sweet and real.

"I Wonder How" marks the album's apex. The rest of the way it's slow and steady pop for Meyer. Songs that are pleasing in a background-music fashion but don't really grab your attention. It's as if Meyer wrote two EPs: a 5-song number with some very solid songwriting and endearing performances, and a 6-song albumette with gentle story songs that would probably play better in a house-concert or coffee shop than in the studio.

Yael Meyer spends much of Everything Will Be Alright exploring self-doubt and dysfunction as it pertains to love and relationships. Featuring supple, and occasionally overly-subtle songwriting, Meyer makes a quiet mark on each listener. At her best, Meyer's almost-shy presence is quietly engaging. Other times she fades into the background like an eternal wall-flower. There is power in this approach, but Meyer front-loads the best material on Everything Will Be Alright, giving listeners an all-or-nothing experience rather than the gentle up-and-down that so mirrors life. So if the album misses the mark, it's more a matter of song ordering than of songwriting or performance. Meyer has the fundamentals in place, and seems to know her sound and limitations well. This is a very good effort that's mildly flawed by decision making, but not fatally wounded.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

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