Same Girl (ACT Music)

Youn Sun Nah

Released May 30, 2010

Prix du Jazz Vocal de l’Académie du Jazz 2010




Youn Sun Nah has experienced an amazing success story. In her home country Korea she is already a star, but over the last 3 years Youn Sun Nah also took the European music world by storm. In France, her second home, she won the prestigious “Prix Mimi Perrin du Jazz Vocal” award by the French Jazz Academy for Best International Vocalist 2010. In the Fall of 2009, Youn Sun Nah was conferred the title “Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres” for outstanding achievements in the field of arts by the French Ministry of Culture. This puts her in a row with numerous international luminaries. After the release of her second outing on ACT “Same Girl” in October 2010 the album stayed #1 for one month and was among the top 10 for more than 40 weeks. The current climax of Youn Sun Nah’s incredible rise is the “ECHO Jazz Award 2011”, Germans most important musicprize, which she took home in June 2011 for Best International Female Vocalist of the Year. “There has not been something so brilliant, interesting and virtuosic in jazz singing for a long time”, wrote leading German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and Jazzwise (UK) found out: “A wonderfully clear voice, with superb melismatic control and dynamic poise. A welcome new presence on the international jazz scene”.

Youn Sun Nah is able to build bridges in a truly unique way – bridges between Asia and Europe; between jazz, chanson and pop; between the highest technical precision and extreme musical freedom; between minimalism and exuberance and between the familiar and the unfamiliar. On “Same Girl” Youn Sun Nah explores and experiments with different musical styles and genres. Whether she is singing the Great American Songbook classic “My Favorite Things”, Philippe Sarde’s “La Chanson d’Hélène”, Sergio Mendes “Song Of No Regrets”, the Korean folk song “Kangwondo Arirang” or even “Enter Sandman” by the heavy metal legends Metallica; despite all the variety it is still the same girl the audience has come to know and love, surprising the listener with songs which break free from the usual stylistic constraints. Her album embraces eleven fascinating interpretations of a very special kind, her distinctive voice building the framework for her multi-faceted musical tastes. Styles and genres may change from tune to tune, but it is always the same girl you are listening to: Youn Sun Nah.

Track Listing:

1. My Favorite Things (Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers) 3:58

2. My Name Is Carnival (Jackson C. Frank) 4:02

3. Breakfast In Baghdad (Ulf Wakenius) 5:56

4. Uncertain Weather (Youn Sun Nah) 3:22

5. Song Of No Regrets (Lani Hall / Sergio Mendes) 3:45

6. Kangwondo Arirang (Traditional) 4:06

7. Enter Sandman (Kirk Hammett / James Hetfield / Metallica / Lars Ulrich) 4:52

8. Same Girl (Randy Newman) 4:14

9. Moondog (Terry Cox) 4:10

10. Pancake (Youn Sun Nah) 3:36

11. La Chanson d’Hélène (Jean-Loup Dabadie / Philippe Sarde) 5:07


Youn Sun Nah: vocals, kalimba, music box, kazoo
Ulf Wakenius: guitars
Lars Danielsson: acoustic bass, cello
Xavier Desandre-Navarre: percussion

Recorded April 7-9, 2010, at Nilento Studios, Gothenburg, Sweden

Produced by Axel Matignon & Lars Danielsson

Executive Producer: Jae Jin In

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Lars Nilsson


Same Girl is Youn Sun Nah’s seventh album, and finds the young Korean singer continuing to explore an eclectic mix of original songs and left-field covers in the company of the stylish trio that joined her on Voyage (ACT, 2009). By turns funny, inventive, dramatic, melodramatic and reflective Same Girl confirms Nah’s abilities as a vocalist and interpreter. 
Guitarist Ulf Wakenius, bassist Lars Danielsson and percussionist Xavier Desandre-Navarre all played on Voyage, and keeping the ensemble together was a wise decision, as these are superb musicians, whose backing is always sympathetic. Nah’s voice is terrific—it has range, power and emotion. Her vocalese on Wakenius’ “Breakfast in Baghdad” is impressive—strong and melodic, it is constantly inventive as she interweaves with Wakenius’ guitar. 
Nah’s weak point is her tendency to cross the line between drama and melodrama when a song demands aggression or anger from the singer. On Jackson C Frank’s “My Name Is Carnival” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” Nah’s vocal veers into melodrama too often, thrusting each song’s underlying mystery and threat dangerously close to comic opera territory despite Wakenius’ measured and precise guitar. 

For most of the album Nah is in more comfortable territory—she has a genuine talent for humor, for quiet reflection or for the romantic or sensual. Nah’s reworking of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” takes the song well away from the saccharine Von Trapp family version. It’s a solo performance: Nah accompanies herself sparingly on the kalimba and sings as if she is revealing some of her most intimate secrets. 
Nah’s interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Same Girl” is beautifully melancholic. Once again it’s a solo performance, with only the kalimba for company, and Nah interprets the song with genuine emotion. She takes the ambiguity of Newman’s lyric and, rather than resolving it, reconstructs it by subtle phrasings and emphases. On “Uncertain Weather,” one of her own compositions, her voice is crystalline and pure as she sings the album’s most romantic and seductive song. 
Nah’s sense of humor pervades many of the tracks: it’s great to hear a jazz singer who is willing to have fun. Nah revitalizes the kazoo, overdue for its jazz revival, with a fine solo to end Terry Cox’s “Moondog.” Her own “Pancake” is hilarious—a paean to Nah’s favorite fast foods, referencing ice cream, French fries, milkshakes and donuts, all of which she seems determined to consume in ten minutes. It also features some funky playing from Danielsson and Desandre-Navarre. 
It is a pleasure to hear a young jazz singer take chances; risking exposure with sparse, skeletal, accompaniments. It’s also a joy to hear genuine humor and fun in the music. Nah still has things to learn, but she is a major talent and Same Girl reinforces her reputation.

Bruce Lindsay (All About Jazz)