Unless you have been whiling away your time under a boulder, you will no doubt, by now, have seen the new MacBook Air from Apple. You are also likely to have seen - and heard- the television advertisement. Apple have been savvy in their choice of sounds once again, as with Leslie Feist's 1234 in their iPod Nano ad. This time, they have plumped for Yael Naim. The song that everyone and his/her dog has been Googling furiously for (long before now) is New Soul and, well, is just gorgeous.
French-Israeli Naim was born in Paris in 1978, but moved to Israel, not far from Tel Aviv, aged four. There she fell in love with the piano and the rest, as they say, is history. New Soul comes from her latest, and sophomore, solo album, which is eponymously titled (her debut being the appallingly-titled In A Man's Womb in 2001) and was released on 22nd October 2007. It was recorded in the studio of her Paris apartment over the course of two years and owes a great deal to West Indian drummer and multi-instrumentalist David Donatien.
On Yael Naim, she sings in not only English, as per the song you have all heard, but also French and Hebrew. And, for me, it is the last of these that results in the most beguiling of her songs...it's not a language you often hear used in contemporary folk-pop music!
New Soul, as I am writing this, is currently the 39th most popular download at iTunes UK, although I understand that it's at #1 in the US. And you know what? The album is great too (although that is nowhere to be seen in the UK top 100 on iTunes). These are not songs that you will find yourself humming or singing along to, but as a whole the album is really rather nice. A lot of the songs sound like lullabies, so it is not one I would recommend as driving music. My concern is that, although I like this album from the five or so listens through I've had so far, her profile will be raised so greatly due to the ad that she will become like a Norah Jones or Katie Melua that I never want to hear again.
It's not that I am some obscure music snob (as this certainly isn't...used by Apple!), you understand, it is just that when something becomes so omnipresent the patina wears thin and it starts to grate...think Dido.
I can appreciate a good pop song...hell, I have Crazy Chick and My LA Ex on my iPod; they are catchy, well-written tunes...good at what they do and hitting the metaphorical nail. Another great pop ditty is Toxic, by the ever more pitiful Britney Spears...and that is covered here by Naim! (Nope, it wasn't just a random tangent). It's a lovely, ballad-y version and plenty nice to listen to but, shoot me for saying this if you wish, in this case I prefer Britney. And that is not something you will hear me say often! Have a listen for yourselves...what do you think?
mp3: New Soul - Yael Naim
mp3: Pachad - Yael Naim
mp3: Toxic - Yael Naim
And I feel that I can't leave without mentioning it, although it matters not a jot to the music, but she's certainly rather easy on the eye too!