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KEREN ANN 101 EMI (2011)

Keren Ann

Keren Ann's last album - her eponymous 2007 effort - got rave reviews from the broadsheets and popular press - Q, The Times, The Guardian etc. Here at GRTR! we conceded we could see why she was held is such high regard ploughing her own innovative, and often beautiful, furrow. But we did say it was one that was unlikely to yield commercial success.

So it proved to be. And this follow up will no doubt attract the same reception, because once again it's a beautifully recorded and emotive set. But while its predecessor was sparse slow, moody and broody, with vocals that were breathy, sexual and innocent at the same time, 101 is a much more expansive set.

Written, arranged and produced and engineered by Keren Ann, 101 features choirs, string sections, horns, synths, piano and a full band throughout with several tracks having an almost Madonna circa Ray Of Light feel. At the other end of the spectrum it strays as far a field as Burt Bacharach territory.

And once again it's a beguiling listen with Keren's gentle breathy vocal always well up in the mix. And yet again it's undeniably beautiful, and it's easy to see why her atmospheric soundscapes so often finds favour as a backdrop for films and TV series. But in commercial terms (which I'm certain that wasn't a consideration of the artist), it's still likely to fall wide of the mark.

That said, the set closer and title track has cinematic blockbuster opening or closing credits written all over it. So knowingly, or not, you're almost guaranteed to experience the art of Keren Ann. ***1/2


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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