Keren Ann makes whispering, unshowy music, soaked in a genteel wash of nostalgia. It is, at first blush, resolutely ordinary, the kind of music you might expect would be embraced by NPR and by the adult-alternative market, but ignored or unnoticed by most music critics. That hasn't been the case, not just because of how unexpectedly, extraordinarily good her songs turn out to be when you listen to them closely, how stealthily memorable they are, but also because of the nearly evangelistic attitude the New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones, perhaps the most widely respected (and certainly one of the best) of current pop music critics, has taken toward her music. He put her last record, "Not Going Anywhere," at the top of his Best of 2004 list, and in a New Yorker profile of Ann, he nailed the subtle but powerful appeal of her music: After writing about the picture-perfect Montmartre view from her apartment, he continues, "Keren Ann's music is like that view: a cliché stood up straight and done so well that you remember why it became a cliché in the first place." Bingo.
I'm thrilled that Metro Blue Records has given Salon an exclusive free download of "Seventeen," a track from "Not Going Anywhere." It will be available for one month.