Yael Naim; David Donatien
tot ou tard 3231742 (www.yaelweb.com)
Having one of your songs hand-picked by Apple CEO Steve Jobs to represent the launch of a new product is a little like winning the lottery. It can be a blessing and a curse, but French-Israeli singer-songwriter Yael Naim and partner David Donatien took advantage of the windfall brought by New Soul to hole up in their Paris apartment and take time and care producing “She Was a Boy,” the third album in Naim’s young career.
At first listen, the collection of 13 songs sounds much like a lot of releases by female singer-songwriters these days: quirky, cute and catchy. But if you dig into the lyrics a bit you’ll hear depth and anguish that belie the bouncy melodies. (I guess having the Israel Defense Forces as your musical training ground will do that to a girl.) The opening track Come Home speaks of the pain and guilt of being independent from one’s family, accompanied by a lively New Orleans-style party track.
Naim also accomplishes what many musicians attempt but few achieve: a true melding of musical cultures. Man of Another Woman beautifully marries Indian melody with Western modality and the laid-back bluesy lament Never Change sounds like a modern, humbler Billie Holiday. One of the main strengths of “She Was a Boy” is the light-handed use of an arsenal of instruments which enhance but never overwhelm the charm of the songs.