Yael Meyer has a pleasant voice. The Chilean born, Los Angeles-based singer writes pleasant lyrics with pleasant melodies. She sounds like the kid sister you wished you had if you were on a ‘60s television sitcom. She’s kind of cool and hip, but mostly normal by society’s standards. What makes Meyer so unusual is the fact that she’s so regular. In an age where female musicians wear outlandish costumes a la Lady Gaga or ultra-sexualize themselves a la Kate Perry, Meyer’s just an average person. That’s her greatest strength and her greatest weakness as a performing artist.
Meyer’s songs tend to be about boy/girl love – growing old together, needing hugs, and such. That’s sweet and saccharin. Meyer’s sugary and whispery voice will enchant those who discover the miracle of love in a world full of alienated people. These heartfelt songs will bring joy to those in the first throes of passion. Meh!
Horses would be unicorns if they were rainbow coloured and had horns, but what comes out the other end would still be the same. There are those who love Kenny G for his easy listening comfort. We live in a democracy where individuals have the right to enjoy what brings them pleasure. Meyer’s mushy declarations of affection have their merits, but what you hear is what you get. So when she softly sings a clever line like, “Traveling at the speed of my own heartbeat” to a fast one-two, one-two rhythm, she’s charming. But that’s all there is, which is why she endlessly repeats that same line over and over again, as if there is nothing else to say – because there isn’t.
Yes, this is a harsh thing to say about such a pleasant sounding normal girl. Music shouldn’t have to mean anything or be profound. It can just be what it is, but Meyer has pretentions. She appears to be saying something. Take the opening lines from the lead song, “Fire”: “Fire is supposed to take you higher / Fire can burn your soul / But if you don’t listen to the choir / The choir will turn to stone.” Meyer croons these lines over a drum machine beat with quiet intensity that suggests she’s saying something. But she is not really saying anything and the unsophisticated martial lines get the listener hepped up for no reason. There’s that old saw that says a talented artist could sing the phone book listings and still sound great. Well, Meyer’s not that great.
The love songs might be clichéd, but they are the best things here. Meyer’s light vocals convey an amiable innocence. On songs such as “Used to Be”, “Tea for Two” and the title track, one could imagine the music providing a pleasant backdrop on a pleasant afternoon in the pleasant countryside. Nothing could be more pleasant than that. Meyer’s normalcy is as happy as that smiley face announcing savings at Wal-Mart, but some of us would rather do our shopping elsewhere.
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// Notes from the Road
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