On The Blood Brothers' 2004 disc Crimes singers Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney scream, "Everybody needs a little devastation," from "Devastator." Well you know what fellas, sometimes everybody needs a little benefaction. Sometimes we need love and flowers and pretty things, like rainbows and holding hands.
Singer/songwriter Keren Ann Zeidel, whose recording name is simply Keren Ann, shows us the tenderness and love that the Blood Brothers were unable to. So single guys out there, pay attention. Nolita from Keren Ann will most definitely improve your game.
Since 2002, the Israeli-born, Dutch-Javanese-Russian-Israeli singer has been integrating the dissimilar styles of trip-hop, folk, and French-pop into her solo efforts. Often compared to Dido and Portishead in the past, Nolita sounds more like Azure Ray, Fiona Apple, and Air.
Nolita opens with the French sung "Que N'ai-je?" Now I don't know for sure, maybe I'm just a sucker for the French language in general, but this has to be one of the sexiest songs I've heard in a long time. She could be singing about her dead grandmother that used to beat her as a child, I honestly don't know, but I also dont care because the music, melod'y, and vocals are so entrancingly beautiful. So guys, if this doesn't put her in the mood right away, you should find out what you are doing wrong ASAP.
The following track, "Greatest You Can Find," is an English track and redefines mushy with the chorus, "Your love is greater/The greatest you can find." With acoustic guitars, light drums, and piano, Keren Ann creates a warm atmosphere of sounds strongly reminiscent of Air's Talkie Walkie.
Ann breaks into full-blown folk on the following track, "Chelsea Burns." Her soft, somber vocals blend effortlessly with the sleepy ambiance created with harmonicas, violins, mandolins, and pianos. Ann's vocals capture the song's beauty like an Ansel Adams photograph - soft, clear, sensual.
"One Day Without," while lyrically a little overly gushy, is still a beautiful display of Ann's ability to sing a perfect melody in accordance with the gorgeous music. If highly sentimental lyrics don't necessarily bother you, "One Day Without" is one of the best English sung songs on Nolita.
Title track "Nolita" is without a doubt the album's highpoint. Easily the album's most solemn track, "Nolita" references heartbreak, depression, and death with lyrics like, "It's late, I think I'm going to bury you, or myself." Stretching beyond seven minutes, the song builds into an emotionally intense wall of sound, including a violin, cello, trumpet, and Ann's shallow, anxious breathes. By the time "Nolita" ends, the crescendo recedes back into a soft vocals and acoustic guitars.
"La forme et le fond," "Midi dans le salon de la Duchesse," and "L'Onde am're" return to Keren Ann's French-pop style with more lyrics I can't understand. But really, that's not what's important here; the accentuated acoustic guitars and lush vocals redefine beauty. "La forme et le fond" again recalls Air, this time something more suggestive of Moon Safari on her most overtly electronic song on Nolita. "Midi dans le salon de la Duchesse" is another highpoint for Nolita, balancing out the mostly somber album with a more upbeat folk tune. "L'Onde am're" accentuates Keren Ann's jazz side with an extended trumpet that really is this song's strong point. Had it not been for the trumpet, "L'Onde am're" would've been Ann's most forgettable song on Nolita.
Everyone should have at least one great, romantic album, whether you are single or not. If you are going to pick one from 2005 so far, it'd be impossible to choose anything but Keren Ann's Nolita. It's not necessarily anything new or revolutionary, as it does borrow a lot from other musicians, most notably Air and Azure Ray, but it is a fantastically beautiful album rich with warm tones and sensual vocals. Both heartbreaking and dreamy, Nolita is a wonderful album. And guys, seriously, this could be your guaranteed in with any lovely lady.
8.4 / 10
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