Yael Naim: She Was A Boy

Written by May 10th, 2011 at 10:41 am

Yael Naim
She Was A Boy
(Tôt Ou Tard)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The voice that sold a million Macbooks. That’s how most music fans know Israeli singer Yael Naim, the woman behind “New Soul”, the song that was featured in all those Apple ads shown across the world.

Now Naim is back with her follow-up album, She Was a Boy, and it is full of light and bubbly tracks. “Come Home” is anchored by a friendly back-and-forth horn line, making room for Naim’s accented, wispy vocals in the upper registers. Her delivery is at times heavily influenced by jazz singing, as well as perhaps even hip-hop, with its staccato flow—“Let’s try to look at each other/Find one another/Asking how can it be/Fighting, losing each other/Thinking the other is not so much like me.”

Occasionally She Was a Boy takes a turn for the ballads, and ends up going a little too far into the land of the trite. “Today”, with its strings and lonely piano, begins with this couplet: “Today I’m looking at the world/And I see ugliness and beauty neighbors/An angel lives inside a liar/And he doesn’t know he has all this inside him.” There is some meaning in this song—emotion drips from the effort of Naim’s delivery—but the lyrics are so cryptic, and the symbolism so circular, that it is nearly impossible to discern without some sort of footnotes or guide.

Naim is best when the production stays layered and her voice carries those quick and simple rhymes. “Mystical Love” has a reggae bounce to it with little bursts of squealing electric guitar in the background. The title track, “She Was a Boy” has that Latin flavor with its rhythmic shakers. “Never Change” is a country shuffle, complete with slide guitar. These three tracks make Naim once again the star of her own world journey. She is traveling to different countries through her music, but this time, there’s a twist: Steve Jobs is not involved. Naim is doing it all on her own.

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