Album Reviews

Keren Ann – 101

(EMI) UK release date: 4 April 2011

Keren Ann - 101 This sixth studio album, recorded in Reykjavik, New York, Paris and Tel Aviv, sees Dutch/Israeli singer-songwriter Keren Ann in relatively upbeat mood and experimenting with a wider and more diverse sonic canvas. The spectral stark ballads and woozy, seductive vocals that will be familiar to her existing fans still feature, yet alternate with more frothy and fun pop songs.

Self-berating lead-off single My Name Is Trouble shimmers with glossy synths, while Sugar Mama bursts with attitude-filled frivolity and Blood On My Hands playfully describes an imagined audience slaughter over sprightly pianos and machine gun drums.

At the other end of the mood spectrum, Run With You is an eerie slow parade of unusual chord changes, She Won’t Trade It For Nothing is breathlessly sweetly melodic and standout track You Were On Fire is all swooning guitars, choirs and strings. Beautifully recorded, you can detect the guttural low cello scrapes while imagining sweeping sunsets and heart ripping romance.

Summery acoustic twang All The Beautiful Girls, atmospheric Strange Weather and the Hawaiian guitar laden Song From A Tour Bus also breeze by yet grab the attention less instantly.

Unusually the title track is the album finale. An apocalyptic countdown of seemingly unrelated items (“73 lunar eclipses, 72 virgins… 52 white keys, 51 genes… 33 recorded miracles” and so on) from 101 down to one, it’s a hugely compelling and dynamic song structure that rackets up the tension with a repeated tinkling menacing arpeggio dragging a limping brass section into a startling sonic battle. When it reaches its end the effect is to make you want to listen again – which surely is a mark of a great album. More please, Keren Ann.

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