Dusted Reviews

Keren Ann - Keren Ann

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Keren Ann

Album: Keren Ann

Label: Blue Note

Review date: Jun. 13, 2007

Globe-trotting songstress Keren Ann is nothing if not cosmopolitan: the Tel Aviv-born, Paris-raised, and New York-based singer (who is, incidentally, of Javanese, Dutch, and Russian heritage) recorded her new self-titled album in studios in all of the aforementioned places, as well as Iceland. Her eclectic background and penchant for perpetual displacement are unfortunately accompanied by an inability to find a distinctive musical personality or coherent artistic vision. Keren Ann sounds very little like her early French language albums with Benjamin Biolay, and even less like her English-language debut, Not Going Anywhere. While her past albums didn’t necessarily share much between them, they were at least internally coherent, which is more than can be said for this one. Ironically, Keren Ann has chosen to self-title the album most symptomatic of her lack of focus and direction as an artist.

Since the dainty preciousness of 2003’s Not Going Anywhere (her last album with Biolay), Keren Ann has attempted to reign in her tendency towards unabashed melodicism and prettiness, thereby stifling what are probably her greatest assets. 2004’s Nolita saw her taking on a brooding New Yorker persona, unconvincingly invoking Warhol and the Velvet Underground. Keren Ann takes a more radio-friendly route, offering up a single (“Lay Your Head Down”) that would fit right in that adult contemporary playlist that includes Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and, yes, Feist. This might not be such a problem in itself, but most of the other tracks on the album seem to protest against such an easily consumable aesthetic: opener “It’s All a Lie,” with its glacial tempo, sparse instrumentation, and near six-minute running time almost challenges the listener to reach “Lay Your Head Down” at track two. The rest of the album is a confused jumble, placing an awkward attempt at bluesy sexiness (“It Ain’t No Crime”) next to synth-strewn acoustic balladry (“The Harder Ships of the World”). Why the obnoxiously perky electronic instrumental “Caspia” is tacked on at the end is anyone’s guess.

There certainly isn’t anything wrong with artistic diversity or experimenting with different genres, but this can’t be done successfully without a consistent sense of personality and the sense that a single artistic intent underlies it all. Keren Ann has neither: the songs on this album share little in common, and instead feel like the work of a talented but immature artist attempting to emulate a diverse group of influences. Her very voice is almost-not-there: quiet and ever-changing, it symptomizes the emptiness and lack of any real mark of individuality or vision in her music.

By Michael Cramer

Read More

View all articles by Michael Cramer

Find out more about Blue Note

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.