Ooh La La
So, okay, I'm a little jealous. But only cuz I have a little thing for Keren Ann and her Not Going Anywhere album. So does my beloved Maria! And our little toddler Rufus! (I used to trick myself into thinking that I was only playing the Keren Ann album to help get Rufus to sleep. But I wasn't fooling anyone. Keren Ann had me in her wistful, world-weary clutches. I felt duped for a while. Who was this girly-voiced warbler? Wasn't I supposed to be able to see through these Norah-come-latelys and their coffee-bar soft soap piffle? Yuppie comfort food, right? Like a 12 dollar side of garlic mashed potatoes at that overpriced corner bistro. "Lifestyle" music for those chardonnay-slurping Kerry apologists and their oversensitive overscheduled offspring. Right? Well, this inner defense that I mounted for myself - I was no New French Underwear patsy! - lasted about two spins. Then I melted like extra-fat butter on top of butter and shallot-infused kobe beef.)
Keren's songs are two darned catchy. The voice-too-close-to-the-microphone production style doesn't make the sound of the thing cloying, claustrophobic, and overheated, which by all rights it should, but truly intimate, inviting, and warm. The little girlyness is never TOO little girly. More along the lines of a Blossom Dearie, Chi (Pronounced "Shy") Coltrane, Kim Deal and her sister singing about sisters on This Mortal Coil records kinda girlyness. A grown-up girlyness. But not too stagey or mannered a girlyness. It's a girlyness that fits a woman who is possibly a bit girly. Or one who has been listening to lots of bossa nova records or perhaps any one of a 1000 french female pop stars from the 60's. THAT kinda girlyness. Which is not gonna be everyone's cup of chai (pronounced "Chy"). I played it for my parents thinking I would get a nice little "oh, isn't that nice, what a lovely zzzzzzz.........." Yes, I was hoping they might fall asleep and stop harrassing me, but instead they actually rolled their eyes a little. A tad too cutesy for the 50's jazz and pop fans. No Patience & Prudence records in their closets, i suppose. Okay, scratch the Patience & Prudence reference. I wouldn't want to give anyone the wrong idea about Keren Ann. Besides, NOTHING sounds like Patience & Prudence outside of Michael Jackson's and Henry Darger's dreams.
I do love the way Not Going Anywhere sounds. It does digital up right. And it IS "warm". Clear, crisp, and just breathy enough to make you swoon. Everything that stillborn Beck album wasn't. I should say that Keren Ann does Nick Drake up right. Sasha says he "reached for it over and over, as if it were a glass of water." And I get where he's coming from. Cuz it is thirst-quenching. But he didn't go far enough. Plain old water doesn't do Keren Ann justice! It would have to be one of those cool swirly euro bottles of water you were reaching for. The ones with all the bubbles that come from ancient underwater streams and that fizz and tickle your nose. Jeez, I guess Keren Ann is making my top ten this year! What a weird year. Big & Rich and Keren Ann? Ambiguously gay cowboys and an adorable cheese eating surrender monkey? Are they really my top two of 2004? Eh, why not? I've heard worse.