Sunday, February 05, 2006

Keren Ann's Not Going Anywhere

France has got a monopoly on fragile female voices and acoustic guitars, and Keren Ann's English debut, Not Going Anywhere adds to that pot.

Though Ann's voice shows a bit more strength than she'll let on, she's still of the Jane Birken whisper camp. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but there's not a lot to differentiate here, and Ann isn't quite charismatic enough to set herself apart from the rest. Her voice does hint at some range, but Ann chooses to underplay it, and instead of having the fragile-yet-powerful voice that Francoise Hardy perfected, she comes across as limp as Julie Doiron.

What saves Not Going Anywhere is typical of alot of similar albums: the production. Ann partners again with producer Benjamin Biolay, who packs the album with strings, horns, and choirs. It's all pastiche, but it's done effectively, and while it's not as picture-perfect as Coralie Clement's Salle des Pas Pardus, it's charming nonetheless. It makes the album pleasant, but Not Going Anywhere remains very aptly titled.

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