Naama Hillman,
Living Room
(Rusty, 2004)

From the first few lines of Living Room, Naama Hillman's voice instantly reminded me of Sarah McLachlan. My initial feelings were borne out through the entire album, and the similarity with McLachlan extends beyond the sound of their voices to both the quality of material and production; Living Room is the equal of anything McLachlan has produced in recent years -- a promising sign given that this is Naama's debut album, and a self-produced effort at that.

Naama's lucid vocals are best demonstrated on songs such as "Sweeter Than Wine," on which she is backed by just acoustic guitar and her own delicious harmony vocals, achieving an altogether intimate ambience that is probably best described by the title of the song itself. It is Naama's beautiful harmonies that really make me warm to this album, yielding spine-tingling moments of magic.

One imagines Naama could achieve considerable radio success with songs such as "Falling," the album's opening track, or "Boxed & Shipped," both of which benefit from a sometimes hypnotic and always tasteful arrangement. Whilst I don't want to labour the comparisons to McLachlan -- just one last mention -- it is tracks like these with a more pop-oriented production that are most likely to appeal to a similar audience that McLachlan has attracted.

The production of Living Room is sublime throughout, giving the music a sophisticated and considered feel. Even when a full-blown string arrangement is included, it merely slips in between the layers of sound to add further depth and texture. Each component is cleverly pieced together, never threatening to overshadow the sum of all the parts and most importantly never distracting from Naama's exquisite voice.

Living Room is a perfectly executed singer-songwriter album. Naama Hillman is a perfect singer-songwriter with whom to relax and chill out. I'm looking forward to her next album already!

by Mike Wilson
2 September 2006

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