Yael Naim - Older (Revisited) (B-)

For most of my reviews I focus on albums that are readily available here in the US. That doesn’t mean albums only MADE in America, as many foreign artists grace my site, but unfortunately it’s not uncommon for artists overseas to release albums in their native country but then struggle to find or negotiate a contract to have that album distributed to the rest of the world. This often results in the album being released long after or never at all here in the US. I’m telling you this to help with any confusion that results during this next review, which is the remixed version of an album that was a victim of the above scenario. Meaning that without significant effort, you will not be able to get your hands on it. The album in question is Yael Naim’s Older, which was released in France last March. Yael, who is sadly still only recognized for her 2008 hit “New Soul”, has developed a unique sound and style since then. Lush and soulful, her music compliments her ever growing vocal prowess, yet she just as easily dials it back to the simplicity that gave her her initial notoriety. But even in that simplicity she deals out complex harmonies or builds out of it to a climax that can fill a room. The easiest way to put it is that Yael Naim is to France what Ingrid Michaelson is to the US. My love of both runs deep. Yael’s Older was one of my favorite albums of 2015 and that’s partly why I’m reviewing the remix, Older (Revisited). It kills two birds with one stone in the sense that it sheds light on an album I was very fond of in 2015, one that very few, if any, of you listened to, and also puts focus on an excellent remix album that IS available to you.

Older (Revisited) still covers the same themes and emotions, as the lyrics have not changed…as if you didn’t know that. Now I feel dumb for including that bit of information, moving on. I should preface by saying that I love when artists have their albums remixed. I know, I know, if done right we all do. While a new take on a song we presumably know and appreciate is cool, that’s just the surface level. Many of us assume that because it’s a remix that the hard part is done, after all, the groundwork has been laid. I don’t see it that way. When the artist can see past the sound that has been imprinted in them, in us, by the original and dismiss all that to create something unique and at times unrecognizable when compared to the original, I'm amazed. While that’s more of an opinion on my appreciation of genuine artistry I think it’s prevalent in regards to a few songs on this album. I was happy to see some of Yael’s fellow countrymen and women, Camille and 20syl to be exact, involved. The vibe ranges from song to song, as it’s a wide array of artists taking on the material, but each is quite different so there’s never a repetitiveness, even when it’s the same song being used. All in all albums like this aren’t meant to be looked at the same way you would a normal album, it plays more like a compilation, and I’m happy to say that this compilation is worth your time. Pianist Brad Mehldau offers a beautiful rendition of “Coward” and David Danatien’s remix of “I Walk Until” is as addictive as anything I've heard this year. Check it out, see what you think, and if any of you are interested in the original album send me an email!