A true nomad, Keren Ann lives an itinerant life that would make Woody Guthrie smile. Born Keren Ann Zeidel, the 31-year-old lived in both Israel and Holland until she was 11, when her family settled in Paris. Now she jets between apartments in New York City and the City of Light, where her delicate folk songs have already made her something of a star. ”It’s not a big deal. People don’t stop me on the street or anything,” she says modestly.
Today, the raven-haired, moon-eyed singer-songwriter is sipping green tea at a café in Manhattan’s too-charming-for-words Nolita neighborhood, where she recorded most of her stunning new album, Nolita (Metro Blue/Blue Note). ”Because New York has so much to do with the history of rock and folk, at some point every artist needs to do a work about New York,” she insists.
Of course, being the world traveler that Keren Ann is makes her take on Gotham more transatlantic than East River. Singing in both English and French, she deftly folds together elements of dusky Parisian chanson, gentle country blues, and bucolic British folk into a record that ultimately makes a powerful argument for the globalization of art.
Not a bad way to follow up a strong Stateside debut, last year’s critically acclaimed Not Going Anywhere. But even if she’s mastered the big city, Keren Ann is still trying to crack the U.S. ”America is so massive and intimidating,” she says. ”You can’t really take it all in at once.” Well, there’s no harm in doing it one town at a time.