Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2008 Yael Naïm by Yael Naïm

According to Wikipedia, Yael Naïm was born in Paris in 1978 to French and Tunisian, Sephardi-Jewish parents. At the age of four, she moved with her family to Ramat HaSharon, Israel, where she spent the rest of her childhood. Many of you will recognize Naïm’s song, “New Soul,” which was chosen by Steve Jobs for the MacBook Air commercial. She has also gotten some air play with her slow, hypnotic cover of the Britney Spears song “Toxic.” The album is a mixture of songs in English and Hebrew (there is also a bit of French on the song “Paris”), and Naïm’s brand of light cabaret-style music will please many fans of Pink Martini. Once again I had to fudge the happiness criteria a bit because there are a few sad numbers on the album (e.g., “Lonely”), but Naïm’s voice is so beautifully soaring that she avoids being truly depressive. Many other songs have the light, foot-tapping quality preferred in an album of the summer.

Favorite songs include the aforementioned “New Soul” and “Toxic,” as well as “Paris,” “Far Far,” and “The Endless Song of Happiness.” The sweet, romantic number, “Far Far” includes the wonderful refrain: “How can you stay outside when there’s a beautiful mess inside?” The accompaniments are entirely acoustic, leaving plenty of space to for Naïm’s vocals. I have been listening to the album for much of the summer, and in the end, it shone through where others did not. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Thank you to Lori Blinderman for introducing me to Yael Naïm.

Here is a live performance of "New Soul":

Here is a live performance of "Far Far" recorded June 21, 2008 at the Berkelee Performance Center in Boston.

And, finally, a short version of "Toxic"

2008 Album of the Summer Honorable Mentions

As the tardiness of this year's announcement suggests, this time the decision was particularly difficult. Several albums made it as candidates, but for one reason or another seemed not to quite fit the bill. Nonetheless, these honorable mentions are also good listening.

This one almost made it. There is great poetry in this album, which is a bit more serious than his previous offerings. But the Album of the Summer has always had an underdog quality to it, and Johnson, who has already received an Album of the Summer pick in 2005, has now achieved mega-star status.

Here is the sweet song "Angel," followed by a bit of "Better Together" from the album of the same name.

THE SWELL SEASON by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
This may be my favorite new (to me) discovery. Released in 2006, this duo starred in the movie Once, and their song “Falling Slowly” won the 2007 Academy Award for best song. This album was eliminated from the competition for not meeting the happy criterion. Hansard is an Irishman and Irglova is Czech. Their music is plaintive and emotional and quite beautiful, but too consistently unhappy to be chosen. This music will remind you of Damien Rice, but it is not quite as desperately hopeless as his.

Here is a great live performance of "Falling Slowly" from Late Night with David Letterman.

This young woman gained attention after some of her songs were used on the television show Grey’s Anatomy. The album is a bit spotty, but there are some truly exceptional songs here, including, “Breakable,” “The Way I Am,” “Overboard,” and “Far Away.” In addition to the songs on the album, Michaelson’s singles, “Giving Up” and “Keep Breathing” are wonderful.

This is a cute montage video made to Michaelson's song "Breakable," from which the album title GIRLS AND BOYS is drawn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waiting, waiting...It's smokin' hot down here, and I need some new tunes...Go Rays.