Keren Ann’s 101 evokes noirish vignettes of loss, heartbreak, and longing, skillfully mixing ethereal sound with sophisticated and sometimes twisted storylines. Her music incorporates many influences, including Leonard Cohen and Jacques Brel for songwriting, and Debbie Harry and Julee Cruise (the chanteuse known particularly for her work on the soundtrack to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks) for moody, airbrushed, sultry vocal performance.
Enigmatic yet intimate, Keren Ann’s not afraid to take the listener on a wild ride while she tries on different characters. Some are veiled in muted melancholy, particularly when she’s willing to show her softer side. “All The Beautiful Girls” is gentle, acoustic beauty with a brittle, disillusioned undercurrent in the lyrics: “What upsets me the most/That instead of a man I married a ghost.” “You Were on Fire” builds sensual vocals with layered strings and an eerie, gossamer, suspended- in-air background choir. In “My Name Is Trouble” and “Blood on My Hands,” the femme fatale and her gun take center stage. But it’s not all darkness in Keren Ann’s world. The coy bubblegum beat of “Sugar Mama” reveals a girl with a sexy wink, plenty of cash, and anything else you might need. Velvet-smooth sonics suggest the singer’s know-how as a producer herself.