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Keren Ann’s luminous sound 

Touring sensation showcases melancholy ballads

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When asked about her whereabouts, French singer Keren Ann Zeidel rails off a months-long list of tour dates, festivals, rehearsals and opera openings that traverses the globe, "and then in March I sleep," she says. Opera?

"My bandmate and I in my band Lady & Bird just finished writing an opera," she explains. The opera, called Red Waters, is a story of twins separated at birth. It's Zeidel's first foray into opera, though she's done film scores and sound design. She's excited, not worried: "I don't think you can add worry to music, all you need is passion," she says.

Zeidel's latest album, 101, was released in March. "It's more luminous than before," Zeidel says. It's not darker than previous work per se, but "the gap between the luminosity and the catchier parts of some songs and the gravity and the dark part of some songs is greater." Her earlier music recalls '60s French pop, an influence she says is still present. "My music hasn't changed, my love for melancholia, for ballads, for song textures, string arrangements and horns hasn't changed."

Her earlier albums were predominantly French, but English began to dominate later, and 101 is entirely in English. "When I learned how to speak French I was a teenager and the teenage years are a very important part of your life when you're a musician," she says. Now, she says, "I just record less in French because the events in my life happen more often in English and I want the people I love to understand. The language of my life is music."

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