This self-titled offering is the fifth solo album from worldly chanteuse and composer Keren Ann. The child of a Dutch/Javanese mother and a Russian/Israeli father, she’s travelled the world and spent much of her youth in Paris. It’s therefore something of a disappointment to discover that this album is a lot less interesting than its creator’s past.
Listing among her influences artists like Serge Gainsbourg, Tom Waits, Simon & Garfunkel should give the listener an idea of what to expect, as should describing its sounds as a mixture of folk, pop, metal, electronica and jazz. Keren’s sultry voice is certainly easy on the ear and, although she doesn’t seem to have a particularly extensive vocal range, she’s definitely capable of making the most of it.
Of the tracks themselves the opening number It’s All A Lie is a morose little refrain with a definite air to it that’s reminiscent of some of Velvet Underground‘s more sedate moments. The first single will be the jangly yet decidedly uninteresting Lay Your Head Down which, with its handclapping filling is doomed to go precisely nowhere. The dark and moody It Ain’t No Crime is much more worthy of note, and evokes an image of what would have happened if Billie Holiday had been able to take a leaf out of Nick Cave‘s book.
In Your Back is best summed up in three words: insipid café jazz, and should be passed over just as quickly. Liberty is unnecessarily long and warbling and seems to be unsure whether it’s a poor Suzanne Vega imitation or sub-par Enya and, whilst the lyric-free zone of final track Caspia is a refreshing shower of what can really only be termed techno-funk, it remains filler nonetheless.
There are female singers too numerous to mention targeting this section of the market and, whilst there’s nothing technically wrong with this album, they’re all producing far better fare. On a more mercenary note, people these days want their money’s worth and nine, admittedly varied, songs is a pitifully poor number.
A few plays will give you an insight into some of this album’s hidden depths but there’s nowhere near enough here to capture your interest. The genre, tempo and style wander around so aimlessly and so frequently that you inevitably find your interest doing the same. A couple of good tracks will never save this from being something you can easily live without.