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KEREN ANN Keren Ann EMI (2007)

Keren Ann

I'm always suspicious when an artist I've never heard of is described as the best thing since sliced bread by the big players in the media. Keren Ann has had 4 albums preceding this release, and her last album Nolita was, allegedly, 'luminous, swoony, melancholic and moving' according to the Independent, 'captivating' according to Mojo, 'a tour de force' according to The Observer and even The Sun got in on the act describing it as 'gentle, woozy folk pop'. So have you ever heard of her? No, me neither.

And on the strength of Keren Ann, I'm afraid, that's likely to remain the case. Often compared to Fraincoise Hardy, Nico, Rufus Wainwright and Suzanne Vega, the album was mixed by Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age and Alanis Morissette) and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

In many ways, it's a thing of beauty. Beautifully recorded - sparse and emotive - the sound painted Daniel Lanois style. The album is in the main slow, moody and broody, Keren Ann's vocals breathy, sexual and innocent at the same time.

Lay Your Head Down In My Arms is a particularly beguiling track with its handclaps, harmonica and strings. In Your Back smoulders, while It Ain't No Crime is a heavy Broadway number. Between The Flatland And The Caspian Sea is about as commercial as the album gets - a gentle almost alt country number with breathy vocals. And it closes on a high with the rhythmic Caspia.

Having listened to the album I can see why Keren Ann is held is such high regard - innovative and ploughing her own, often beautiful, furrow, but one that's unlikely to yield commercial success. But I suspect that's something that's unlikely to be of concern to Keren Ann.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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