French-Israeli singer-songwriter Yael Naïm has come a long way since her 2007 single “New Soul” shot to the top of the Billboard charts after Steve Jobs handpicked it to launch Apple’s MacBook Air, making her the first Israeli solo artist to have a Top 10 hit in the US. Today, she shares a delicately haunting new single, “How Will I Know” off her newly announced NightSongs album, out March 20 on Believe Music. Sonically familiar to the worlds of Agnes Obel or Daughter, she’ll be celebrating the release with an international tour – dates below
The journey of self-discovery consumes every artist. That is certainly the case with Parisian-born, Franco-Israeli Yael Naim. Her previous albums, Older (certified gold in France), She Was A Boy and her self-titled 2007 debut were all co-produced with her husband David Donatien — NightSongs, however, was arranged and produced solely by Yael, making it purely her own.
“I realized I’d never dared create a musical project on my own – completely alone, with my moods, feelings and failings. I also had a period of turbulence where everything seemed to shake around me, and I wanted to capture that in the music that I was making,” Yael said of a time in her life that saw the birth of her second child as well as the loss of her beloved father.
After the great success of “New Soul” and winning multiple awards (including Best Female Pop Singer in 2016) at Victoires De La Musique – the French equivalent of the Grammy Awards – Yael turned inwards to write this new album. “Writing at night, when no one sees you, you can do things that aren’t allowed. I had what I called ‘night feelings’ and songs that I eventually called NightSongs,” she says, explaining the album’s genesis. “The new album is certainly darker too. But then, I love darkness. Some light can only be heard in the darkness. Some music can only be heard in silence.”
The idea of acceptance – of circumstance, self, relationships and of life in general – lies at the core of the album. The album’s lyrical confessional nature and intimacy is also matched by Yael’s remarkable arrangements. Key to the textures on NightSongs is Yael’s use of the voice – both her own and the Hungarian-inspired Paris-based choir Zéné who appear on many tracks.
“One thing I learnt during the process of making this record is that if you stop pretending that you are Superman, then people will tell you that they feel the same way as you. When that happens, it’s amazing,” Yael says. “It proves that we are not alone.”
April 1: London, UK @ Hoxton Hall
April 2: Copenhagen, Denmark @ Brorsons Kirke
April 3: Berlin, Germany @ Silent green
April 4: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Tuinzaal (Paradiso)
April 15: Paris, FR @ Bouffes du Nord
April 16: Paris, FR @ Bouffes du Nord
April 17: Paris, FR @ Bouffes du Nord
May 9: Brooklyn, NY @ National Sawdust
June 4: Istanbul, @ Zorlu Pac Festival
June 6: Hamburg, GE @ elbjazz Festival