Thu, 24 February 2011
Korean born Youn Sun Nah’s latest CD, Same Girl, opens with as radical a re-interpreting of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” as I’ve heard since John Coltrane stood the jazz word on its collective ear four decades ago. Accompanying herself on kalimba, her vocal is ethereal and hypnotizing. She slows the tune down to a sleepy ballad, stretching out some phrases, clipping others. It’s thrilling music.
I can’t say that the rest of the CD lives up to this exciting reimagination, but I can say that Youn Sun Nah is a talent to be reckoned with. The arrangements are often stark, but her singing can be firm and commanding on “My Name is Carnival”, a tribute to the late folk singer Jackson C. Frank. Her version of Randy Newman’s “Same Girl” comes across as a lullaby, and Sergio Mendes’ “Song of No Regret” as a Broadway torch song a la Sondheim. I look forward to more from this unique artist.