Keren Ann (Blue Note Records, 2007)

To call singer/songwriter Keren Ann Zeidel a globetrotter would be an understatement. Born in Israel to a Russian-Jewish father and a Javanese-Dutch mother, she has lived in Israel, the Netherlands, Paris, and New York, and maintains both Israeli and Dutch citizenship. Most of her early recordings were largely in French, but her self-titled album from last year is the first of her albums to be sung entirely in English.

The album starts out well enough, with the first two song "It's All a Lie" and "Lay Your Head Down" having a cool vibe reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. "Lay Your Head Down," in particular, qualifies as a strong single. But the album loses its momentum from that point. Most of the songs on the album are just too soft. Only near the end, with the song "Between the Flatland and the Caspian Sea," do things pick up again. By that point, unfortunately, I had more or less lost interest.

Keren Ann is not without talent, and her album does have a couple of songs to recommend it. But the songs in the middle of the album suffer from a crippling lack of energy, without anything really distinctive or noteworthy about them to maintain my interest level. Now granted, I just gave a glowing review to Anna Ternheim, whose songs are not exactly happy and bouncy, but Ternheim has the songwriting ability to make a soft, acoustic ballad hit you with an emotional impact equivalent to the force of a bomb. Keren Ann's music by contrast, just tends to float unobtrusively in the corner.

overall grade: C+

reviewed by Scott

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