Some artists have the ability to morph into any era, and I think Yael Naim is one of them. The French/Israeli singer songwriter is set to launch her album, Older, later in the year. In the meantime, she’s provided a taster of what’s to come with EP release Coward, a brief journey into the intimate depths of maternal anxiety.
The title track and alternate versions featured on this EP are swamped in nostalgia with a conversational vocal that reveals strength and tenderness as much as it does weakness. It’s a scrupulously truthful release echoing the reality of many. The track has a ghostly edge to it which causes the heart to skip a beat in fear. Maybe it’s the sound of the classical pianist’s crisp, clean syllables combined with the orchestral background and strings. Or the tinkling piano evoking images of raindrops as it caresses the ears. Whatever it is, nothing can stir up emotion like a well crafted song delivered with passion, like this one.
The alternate formats feature American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and Dutch Metropole Orkest, the latter conducted by Jules Buckley. Written and recorded at Naim’s Parisian house, where she resides with her partner of a decade, Coward flows like a river, ebbing and rolling playfully and eagerly towards a theatrical climax. As with any topic of a sensitive nature, the words are chosen with exquisite care and never wasted.
After many years in the business without wider attention, if Naim’s forthcoming album invites the kind of praise one doesn’t quite know what to do with, it is no more than she deserves.
Coward is out June 15.
Helen Marie Grant