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Yael Naim

By SHARON STEEL  |  April 8, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
I can’t understand half of what Yael Naim is singing on her homonymous sophomore release, and her inscrutability only adds to her charm. Naim’s breakthrough, chart-topping iTunes single, the piano-driven “New Soul” (the one from that ubiquitous MacBook Air commercial), is sung in English; Naim, however, was born and now lives in Paris — which explains why she weaves French phrases into her songs and offers “Paris” in homage to the city of lights. Thing is, she was raised in Israel, and nearly all of the tracks on this disc have Hebrew lyrics — some exclusively. Her voice boasts the nervous cracks and cadences of Regina Spektor, the sweet charisma of Leslie Feist, and a lilting accent all her own that rises and falls with lovely irregularity. A soulful cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” is an unhurried, down-tempo interpretation that proves almost unrecognizable from the original; “Lonely” and “Far Far,” come off as shy, humid pockets of emotion. “New Soul” might be Steve Jobs’s top jam for spring ’08, but Naim’s piano-driven, almost absurdly tender Hebrew folk hymns (“Yashanti,” “Lachlom,” “Baboker”) tremble with an aged loneliness powerful enough to outlive the Apple hype machine — or at least one of its laptops.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Yael Naim , Regina Spektor , Steve Jobs ,  More more >
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