Keren Ann, Chris Garneau | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Keren Ann, Chris Garneau Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Mon., June 13, 8 p.m. 2011

With her recent sixth album, 101 (Blue Note), French pop chanteuse Keren Ann stumbles for the first time in a recording career that began in 2000. She departs here and there from her beautiful narcotic sound, trying to incorporate new musical ideas but often just disrupting what might've worked about the song. In the past she's evolved organically and inconspicuously—the difference this time is that you can't help but notice the attempt. Album opener "My Name Is Trouble" rides atop a polite, muffled house beat, and on the chorus she uses ethereal post-Lilith Fair vocal swoops that sound undignified coming from her. The title track is tediously minimalist, with just a single constantly repeating groove—no melodic development, not even a chorus—and its lyrics take what feels like forever to count down from 101 ("Seventy-seven developing nations / Seventy-six trombones / Seventy-five springs"), arriving finally at "one god." That's not to say that all the departures flop: "Sugar Mama" has a twangy "Wipeout" guitar lick and a dose of campy badassery, and she gooses it with energetic playfulness. And of course she's still good at what she's always been good at—on songs like "You Were on Fire" and "She Won't Trade It for Nothing" you can hear how totally she's mastered bittersweet melancholy. —Peter Margasak

Price: $14, $12 in advance

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