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Yael Naim and David Donatien - Yael Naim

Yael Naim and David Donatien, Yael Naim

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

YAEL Naim will be known to millions of television viewers as the voice behind Apple’s new Macbook Air advert – her wonderfully chirpy, piano led song New Soul providing the catchy musical accompaniment.

Rather like Feist’s 1, 2, 3, which also featured in an Apple campaign, it could well elevate Yael Naim to superstar status because it is a genuinely endearing listen – and one that’s easily capable of crossover appeal.

The remainder of the album, however, is more of an acquired taste. Delivered in English, French and Hebrew, it certainly provides a confident showcase of Naim’s stunning vocals. But anyone anticipating an LP that’s as accessible as New Soul may find themselves disappointed.

Album opener Paris, for instance, is a melancholy start, delivered in Hebrew, that’s built around a strummed acoustic guitar loop and some nice orchestration. But it’s a hard starting point both because of its downbeat nature and the fact that we’re never quite sure why she sounds so sad.

Too Long, meanwhile, is another slow-builder that, once again, is based around a melancholy theme: loneliness. Naim’s vocals are gorgeous, but the track is lacking something and it’s like a breath of fresh air when New Soul arrives.

Sadly, the track that follows, Levater, is another low-key offering that’s wrapped in sorrow. Sung in Hebrew, it’s nicely composed – especially when accompanied by Stanislas Steiner’s violin – but you really have to be in the right mood.

Indeed, the album is more melancholy than optimistic, with New Soul one of only a handful of tracks to raise the tempo. And once you’ve got used to that, there’s lots to admire.

The stark, piano-based Lonely is a heartbreakingly beautiful track that’s a spine-tingling highlight, while the intricate instrumental layering that accompanies Naim’s dusky vocals on Far Far make for an enchanting listen.

Lachlom, meanwhile, is a nicely whimsical offering that delves into dreams, while there’s a warm, dusky, jazzy feel to Pachad that’s accompanied by another fine vocal performance. The kooky, charming melodic structure of New Soul also returns for final track Endless Song of Happiness, which brings things to a suitably satisfying close.

And look out, too, for an imaginative, even moving, reinterpretation of Britney Spears’ Toxic, which benefits from its stripped down, almost ethereal approach. Such moments help to ensure that Yael Naim’s eponymous LP is worth checking out if your music tastes reside just off the mainstream. New Soul may be the hook that tunes you in, but there’s many more surprises worth finding.

Download picks: New Soul, Far Far, Lonely, Toxic, Pachad, Lachlom, Endless Song of Happiness

Track listing:

  1. Paris
  2. Too Long
  3. New Soul
  4. Levater
  5. Shelcha
  6. Lonely
  7. Far Far
  8. Yashanti
  9. 7 Baboker
  10. Lachlom
  11. Toxic
  12. Pachad
  13. Endless Song of Happiness