Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

432

Youn Sun Nah: Voyage

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Although her UK debut at London's Vortex was in May 2009, South Korean singer Youn Sun Nah has been a figure on the French jazz scene since the mid '90s when she moved there to study jazz and French chanson.Voyage, her sixth release sees her deftly accompanied by some of the top names in European jazz.

One phrase into "Dancing With You" and it's clear that here is a remarkable voice. Sun Nah possesses the sensuousness of Melody Gardot, the quirky, theatrical air of Björk, and the blues of a Parisian chanteuse. On the opening "Dancing With You," Ulf Wakenius accompanies softly on acoustic guitar and Lars Danielsson's melodica brings a Parisian feel to a tender love song.

Half the tracks are Sun Nah originals and reveal her to be a romantic at heart. Her songs are tinged with a sweet melancholy, like the lovely "My Bye," which features a plaintive solo from trumpeter Mathias Eick. The Norwegian also features on the beautiful title track, where all the nuances of Sun Nah's voice—soothing yet fragile—are heard. Eick's solo is sensitive and gently paced, providing perfect sympathetic background. Danilesson's "The Linden"—with its melancholy air and brushes like a gentle breeze—could have been written for Sun Nah.

Sun Nah's cover songs are rhythmically more engaging and reveal the impressive range and operatic quality of her voice. Egberto Gismonti's classic "Frevo" sees Sun Nah scatting bebop style with tremendous facility and reaching a flamenco-like passion. Nat "King" Cole's "Calypso Blues" is a sheer delight, with Danielsson laying down a gorgeous groove over which Sun Nah's sultry voice plays with the lyrics, reaching a falsetto which might just crack glass.

Tom Waits could probably retire on the royalties received from covers of his songs, and here Sun Nah takes on "Jockey Full of Bourbon." With Wakenius sounding slightly Marc Ribot-ish, and a swinging groove courtesy of Daneilsson and percussionist Xavier Desandre-Navarre, it is a tad too faithful in spirit to the original to really stand out, but is enjoyable nevertheless. More interesting is the quirky original "Please, don't be sad," which features what sounds like facial percussion and Wakenius' darkly funky guitar punctuation.

"Shenandoah" is a long way from Korea, but Sun Nah brings a haunting beauty to this classic of the American songbook. "Inner Prayer," another beautiful original, has a touch of Americana about it and Sun Nah's delivery is yearning and vulnerable, underpinned by washing cymbals and Eick's fragile, puffs-of-air trumpet solo.

The final track, Carlos D'Alessio's seductive and moody "India song," sees Sun Nah caressing the lyrics in French, accompanied by bass and minimal acoustic guitar.

The French may well have been keeping Youn Sun Nah a secret all these years. A voice this special—with songwriting skills to match—may breed jealousy. Unfortunately for the French, Youn Sun Nah's talent is too great to confine and the rest of the world awaits a chance to hear this unique talent.


Track Listing: Dancing With You; The Linden; Calypso Blues; My Bye; Jockey Full of Bourbon; Voyage; Please, don't be sad; Shenandoah; Come, Come; Frevo; Inner Prayer; India Song.

Personnel: Youn Sun Nah: vocals; Ulf Wakenius: guitars; Lars Danielsson: acoustic bass, cello, melodica; Xavier Dessendre-Navarre: percussion; Mathias Eick: trumpet.

Title: Voyage | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ACT Music

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interview
Read more articles

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Songs of Experience" CD/LP/Track Review Songs of Experience
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Glare of the Tiger" CD/LP/Track Review Glare of the Tiger
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "City Of Light" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Light
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Bright Yellow with Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017