Yael Naim – Older

Those of us who swooned to Yael Naim‘s 2008 breakthrough Yael Naim and David Donatien and then drifted away, distracted by a million and one other clamourers for our ears and our cash, better hope she’s in forgiving mood. Her fourth album, once again a co-production with Donatien, sees the French-Israeli singer songwriter fuse traditional elements in a heady and spirited brew. By now, as her aesthetic colours and expands, those roots foundations are only just there: from jazz, from folk, she fashions a strain of left-field pop that is breezy, playful and uncommonly accomplished.

Difficult to know where to pitch this one: think Feist, perhaps. Older certainly has a taste, like the Canadian, for a joyous, unbridled dismantling of pop norms. Elsewhere, there are shades of Nerina Pallot or the wayward genius of Fiona Apple. The opening brace of ‘I Walk Until’ and ‘Make a Child’ is a breathless intro, a hopscotch of beats, light on its feet and heavy with ideas. The tone is largely flighty and free but even when Naim digs deep for the mini symphony ‘Coward’ or steps closer to trad on the blues-flecked gospel of ‘Dream In My Head’, it’s still sharp enough (“Just waiting for my blame to get old”) and weird enough to sidestep worthy showboating. As with her 2008 wonder (its follow-up She Was a Boy will just have to take its place on the catch-up list – doh), Naim conjures a vivid, dizzying pop dreamscape, a riot of melody. As winter takes hold, its summery vibe is a real tonic. Seek it out.

About Gary Kaill (25 Articles)
Feature Writer at Words & Guitars. Manchester based.
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