It’s funny how you can often tell a foreign musician from an American, even when they don’t sing with an accent. Astrud Gilberto, Stina, Bjork - they all sing with in a hyper-annunciated way that is can be strikingly beautiful, exotically sexy and charmingly innocent.
Before I knew Keren Ann Zeidel’s story, I knew she wasn’t from around here: She delivers her songs with the flat, crystalline tone of someone for whom English is not second nature, and the songs she sings have a quirkiness at which U.S. hit makers would most likely balk. But this Paris-based songstress (who was born in Israel to a Javanese-Dutch mother and Russian-Israeli father) communicates across cultural boundaries.
While some of the songs on Not Going Anywhere
are to my ears just a bit too precious and plinky ("Polly," for example, or "Right Now & Right Here"), most of the 11 tracks are compelling, keen and thought-provoking.
The entire disc has a folksy simplicity - often Keren Ann sings only to solo guitar - but there’s also darkness and depth that makes me think of Aimee Mann and, of all things, the Velvet Underground. The title track is a wonder, "End of May" has the characteristic mix of mystery of nostalgia that seems to be her hook, and "Sailor and Widow" is a very different little tale that brings to mind Robin Hitchcock. All in all, a fun and surprisingly adventurous outing.