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Gabriel Kahane - The Ambassador / The New York Times review

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A sense of place provides more than a casual significance on The Ambassador (Sony Masterworks), an affecting new concept album by Gabriel Kahane. Inspired by the topography of Los Angeles, it's a collection of songs that draw meaning from specific points on the map, some enshrined in popular culture (the Bradbury Building, Musso & Frank Grill) and others known for darker reasons: "Empire Liquor Mart (9127 S. Figueroa St.)," memorializes a teenage African-American girl shot and killed by a shopkeeper in 1991. Mr. Kahane is a singer of gentle warmth and composure, and a composer with a seemingly endless reserve of strategies, constructing some tracks like chamber pieces and others like indie-pop singles. He has impeccable taste in collaborators, like the multi-instrumentalist Rob Moose and the singer Shara Worden, and he knows how to fold them into a whole. But the most remarkable thing he achieves here, in song after song, might just be his vivid yet subtle articulation of empathy. -Nate Chinen