By MaryAnn Odete, Contributing Writer
Yael Naïm made her U.S. comeback with two shows in NYC and one in Chicago at City Winery. I had the luck to attend the one on February 24th in NYC and while I expected something amazing, Naïm still managed to give me more. Afterwards I was that combination of calm and excited that comes from undergoing something that is eye-opening, bewitching and pleasing.
Starting with the single off her latest album Older, “Dream in my Head” (which has been described as a Parisian James Bond theme), the audience was obviously immediately enchanted with Naïm’s presence. From the lullaby-esque to covers to sweeping ballads, every song Naïm played was infused with a certain something that felt as if it came from somewhere deep inside her. On her new album, Naïm commented on the name, Older, and how it represented a new time in her life. She is older, experiencing new things all the same and how in the recent past she experienced both death and life with someone close and dear to her dying, but also becoming a new mother. And throughout the night, with both her music and through discussion, she shared pieces of herself with the audience.
Her set was peppered with old favorites (New Soul, Go to the River), new favorites (Coward, Dream in my Head) and covers (Toxic, I Can’t Help Loving You). She even managed to create harmonies with her audience by having us match pitch. And one of things she is known for is mixing in various languages into her songs. I counted four (French, Hebrew, Creole, and English). The blend feels seamless and it gives a connected quality to the music. Obviously everyone there was taken with all that was happening (she had sold out both nights) and afterwards it seemed the consensus was that Naïm had really outdone herself. We all knew she was exquisite performer, but you can never know what you’re going to get until it happens. And after the happening we were all beyond satisfied.
All there is really left to say is it was an enchanting evening. Among all the stress New York has to offer, it was a beautiful way to spend the evening, enveloped by Naïm’s voluminous voice. While it was worth the wait, it would be even better if her next U.S. concert could have less of a gap in between.