Most music fans would probably only recognize Yael Naim after hearing her hit single “New Soul,” which appeared in those MacBook Air commercials back in 2008. The Israeli-French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is way too talented and incredible of a performer to only be remembered for one song however.
A block away from Tao Nightclub in New York City where stars like Rihanna are known to party late into the night, a different star was shining just as bright at Highline Ballroom on Thursday, with Naim performing some new songs off of her recent album, Older. The LP has earned the performer the prize of Artist of the Year at the 2016 French Victoire Awards recently, and the packed venue had the joy of experiencing Naim’s mix of music to warm them up on the cold New York night.
Hopping back and forth from guitar, to piano, or just singing responsibilities throughout the evening, most of the material on Naim’s twelve song set were from Older. As she kept her set within nearly the same order as her album’s track listing, the mix of all her genres is what really keeps the listener on their toes as the album, or in the case the live performance, plays through.
After starting out on guitar, Naim hopped over to her baby grand for “I Walk Until” and “Make a Child,” and started out “Dream In My Head” with a beautiful intro on the keys which sounded like a rainfall of notation bliss. She captured spirit of a lost soul looking for answers as the piano and vocal melodies were perfectly in sync for “Coward,” before turning Britney Spears’ “Toxic” into a calm but seductive duet of mysterious desire.
She then turned to the spirit of the blues with the very audience interactive “Walk Walk,” featuring her literally kicking off her shoes and heading into the audience to help the communal feel of the song's bluesy foundation come to life. Of course the only way to follow that was a performance that hit of hers in “New Soul.”
For her encore she channeled Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” for a slower cover much more fitting for her more impressive vocal abilities before a solo folk-sounding “Older.”
“Let’s just do thine one before I send you to sleep,” she said before closing out with a most beautiful and haunting song made up of both Hebrew and creole lyrics in “Ima.” If the song’s xylophone opening, which sounds like one of those old wind up toys you see in films set in 19th century Russia, doesn’t give you a spine tingling sense of wonder and enjoyment as she sings along like a lullaby, then you may as well turn in your musical soul at the door.
If You Could See
I Walk Until
Make A Child
Dream In My Head
Toxic (Britney Spears cover)
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover)