Keren Ann, Jazz Café, London
Tuesday 12 April 2011
The audience was pulled out of its drinking and chatting revelry at the Jazz Café when "101", the title track of Keren Ann's latest album was pumped loudly from the PA system.
The song, which counts down 101 things – "101 floors... 100 days to abundance... 99 per cent..." – was a characteristically experimental opening from a performer who styles herself as a neo-beatnik.
With a boyish crop and heavily kohled eyes Keren arrived and launched straight into "Suga Mama", a rather camp track, also from the new album, which sounds like a song from Return to the Forbidden Planet. Playing electric guitar and surrounded by her male band mates, Keren, 37, cut a striking figure in black.
The Dutch-Israeli's music is a delicious feast of varying styles – electro, pop, rock, folk, jazz – and her velveteen vocals are stunning.
She switches from breathy blues to the melodramatic "Blood on My Hands", before relinquishing electric for acoustic, blowing into a mouth organ with attitude and doing a passable impression of June Carter. It is this versatility which, while commendable, has hampered Keren's mainstream appeal, so unexpected is the sound she produces at every turn. Once compared to Katie Melua and Norah Jones, the new album bulldozes such similarities.
With her aggressive (and sometimes cringe-worthily rhyming) lyrics and understated coolness, Keren is like no other artist currently around. The multi-linguist sings as easily in French as English, dances as effortlessly as she plays guitar and, with her porcelain features, appears otherworldly.
She sang a cappella to screams of applause before shaking off her melodic softness and adopting the Goldfrapp-influenced persona required for "My Name Is Trouble" and "You Were On Fire" – both of which should be on your playlist for this year.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling