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Some melancholy summer afternoons beg to be enhanced with an album like “Same Girl” by Youn Sun Nah. Her silky voice seems made to drift through the shadows during a daydream.

The title track in particular is a wonderful showcase for Youn’s almost impeccable vocal, with sparse instrumentation placing the spotlight where it belongs.

When the band gets into the act, it’s always classy, from the swing of “Uncertain Weather” to the funky turn of “Pancake.”

Yet some of the selections for Nah’s silent treatment are downright bizarre. Her rendition of “My Favorite Things” takes a Rodgers and Hammerstein anthem to unbridled, energetic optimism and tones it down into oblivion. Is Nah being ironic here? Is her Maria in prison or a madhouse, muttering about the luxuries she can no longer have? Similarly, at least half of her spare take on “Enter Sandman” is too somnambulic for a rock standard.

Yet these lapses are more than compensated for by the highlight of the album: “Kangwondo Arirang,” the traditional Korean folk song, whose sad spirit is perfectly captured even with Western instruments.

Youn Sun Nah “Same Girl”

Label: Hub Music

Genre: Jazz

By Ben Applegate
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