Take a closer look at a profoundly international artist, a musician whose global approach to life is very much in line with Air France.
For conventional souls 7 is the lucky number, while 13 causes trepidation. For Keren Ann, a young lady of distinction in every respect, 101 is the number laden with special meaning. This symmetrical number seems to have followed her throughout her life, occasionally disturbing the rational order of things to remind her of its presence.
It starts with Psalm 101 in the Bible, which in turn lent its name to Route 101 which runs along the Pacific coastline of the United States and culminates with the landmark skyscraper, Taipei 101, where she was recently invited to visit the top floor; Floor 101. Making her way back down from the roof of the world via the service stairs, a countdown started in her head: a dizzying tangle of personal memories, numbers and a universal enumeration that can be found at the end of her sixth album, 101.
A decade after the release of her first album, Keren Ann has become one of the most internationally influential artists to come out of France. Signed to Blue Note in the United States and Parlophone in the UK, she has a home studio in every town she calls home, from Montmartre to New York, from Tel-Aviv to Reykjavik – cardinal points on an intimate personal map on which her life and her songs intermingle harmoniously.
In 2004, around the time of the album Nolita, she was overflowing with New York-style effervescence, juggling between ten different projects at once, overcoming jet-lag and exhaustion, saying: “I’ll sleep in the grave”. After Nolita she released the eponymous album Keren Ann, the first to be entirely recorded in English and continued at the same pace.
She collaborated with multi-talented Icelander Barði Jóhannsson on their duet Lady & Bird, she wrote and produced for singers Emmanuelle Seigner and Sylvie Vartan, she worked extensively on the soundtrack for the film Thelma, Louise et Chantal (2010) and is currently working on an opera with Barði again (Red Waters – to open in 2011).
Being an expert in the studio, Keren Ann required no outside help when fine-tuning the textures of this richly rewarding album. However the final stages of the mixing process were entrusted to Julien Delfaud, to make sure hers were not the only pair of ears to have worked on the project. The complete control she maintained over the album is one of its most captivating aspects. Her name may be “trouble”, but her ideas and arrangements are perfection: transparent layerings of textures, strings, choirs, horns and arpeggios. As with all Keren Ann’s albums, 101 invites the listener to embark on a meditative journey while also savouring the pleasure of defying the laws of gravity – both in the physical sense, in that some of the songs seem to drift up into a state of weightlessness, and also in the sense that the earnest, truthful tone of the album is periodically punctuated with black humor. An instant classic, and also a major artistic breakthrough.
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