Yael Naim | The Auditorium, Rome | 24 November, 2008

Yael Naim
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Whilst Yael Naim's world-wide fame may have been jump-started in the US by her infectiously catchy hit single New Soul being used by Apple in an advertising campaign to launch its MacBook Air, in Italy she's possibly best known for her brief guest appearance at the San Remo Music Festival last year when she performed the song on Italian television. Although her self-titled CD (which recently won Album of the Year in the World Music category at the Victoires de la Musique annual French music awards) has been out for a while now this immensely talented singer and musician is on a world tour, entitled New Soul, to promote the album.

Switching effortlessly between songs in French, English, and Hebrew, Yael Naim's music defies categorization and drifts through folk, pop and jazz – in fact, her concert at Sala Sinopoli at the Auditorium last night was presented as part of the Roma Jazz Festival – all sung in a voice that has the richness and range of a young Joni Mitchell...but not quite, because after a short while on stage, particularly after her slowed down piano reworking of Britney Spear's Toxic, comparisons with other artists fade, and the only appropriate adjective to describe Yael Naim quickly becomes “unique". And "wonderful"... And "FUNNY"! Disarmingly self-effacing in her between-song chat, often breaking into spontaneous giggles and leaping around the stage throwing off shoes and dancing – or rather pogo-ing! – she had the small crowd at Sala Sinopoli on its feet clapping, dancing and singing along. The reprise of New Soul in the encore was one of those "you had to have been there" moments as she divided the hall into three sections and had us all singing different harmonies.

Equally at home playing the piano, guitar and even what looked like a ukulele at one point, she was backed by three consummate musicians – her musical partner, the percussionist David Donatien (who is incidentally given a co-credit on her album), Laurent David on the bass and Xavier Tribolet on keyboards and accordion. Sheer perfection.

As a side note, at the end of the show she even stayed behind on stage signing autographs and posing for photographs (something I've never seen happen with any other bands at the Auditorium before).