Music is anything but a job to Yael Naim and David Donatien. It's entwined in every aspect of life for these musical and romantic partners, who recorded their third album together in their family home on the outskirts of Paris.
At first Donatien was helping her to realise the potential of her own songs. An earlier album recorded for EMI at the start of the 2000s, before they met, had been a disaster for her and was never released??[SHE SAYS IT WASN'T, WIKIPEDIA SAYS IT WAS]. "I was in my Alanis Morissette period. It was just bad, horrible," she says. "I was working with people who were not good for me. Then I decided that instead of meeting music business people, I would try to meet musicians. I took a gig as a pianist and David was the percussionist. We immediately connected to each other. He was very calm, not pretentious. He was listening, observing, trying to see how he could help me."
Naim is at her most soulful on Dream in My Head, a swaying, grandiose song that could be a Bond theme if Bond was Parisien. Trapped is another one the piles the voices high, with Naim reaching dizzying heights on her lead vocal. She's singing with more power and feeling than ever before.
"This album is very different from the last one. It has more emotion. What we lived was stronger," says Naim, talking about its literal life and death themes. "Suddenly life disappeared and life appeared. My grandmother was my first loss as an adult. I'm singing about what kind of person you become once you are in front of big changes."
Music helps her to process everything in her life. "There's a relief you can have through writing music. Putting everything you go through into it helps you to go on." She has had dalliances with acting, and at the height of her fame in the US was asked to voice a character in The Simpsons – invariably a sign of A-list status. She played the neice of Sacha Baron Cohen's tourist guide when the yellow family made a trip to Israel in Season 21. Pretence isn't her thing though. "I am the opposite of an actress: I have to be myself every second, or I suffer."
Born in Paris but brought up near Tel Aviv by her Tunisian parents from the age of four, these days Naim mostly sings in English because she listened to Englishspeaking musicians growing up. She did 10 years of classical piano training, loved the Mozart film Amadeus and initially wanted to write symphonies, but at 12 The Beatles began to turn her head. "I started writing pop songs. I couldn't have my own orchestra at 16 but with pop music, I was free to express myself how I wanted."
Even her obligatory two years of military service in the Israeli army didn't stop the music. She was made a singer in the Air Force big band at 18, touring the country performing to the soldiers. "We did pop music, Sting, Eels, whatever I wanted. For the person I was at the time, it was interesting, except for the fact that it's the army and I hope that one day this system will be finished."
What they've done instead is make an ambitious, wide-ranging album that has something worthwhile to say about big subjects,whichever language they're singing in. Their music-filled home has been opened up to the world, and the world will love it.