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Gabriel Kahane - The Ambassador / NPR 'First Listen'

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Composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane says that the inspiration for his new album, The Ambassador, is 10 buildings in Los Angeles - appropriate, given what a gifted musical architect he is.

The Ambassador is structured as a set of 10 vignettes, each a meditation on life in the City of Angels (as well as its many demons). The narrative of each song is located at a particular L.A. street address, on a time scale that skips around the city's history, from the 1940s to the present. Working with that as his framework, Kahane slips in and out of guises brilliantly, from the noirish brass slides and growls he gives "Musso and Frank (6667 Hollywood Blvd.)" to the folky feel of "Ambassador Hotel (5400 Wilshire Blvd.)," whose cadences recall Simon & Garfunkel. A mere talented mimic would take each of these personae on and off as a clever party trick; here, Kahane weaves enough contemporary threads from one song to the next to make a coherent whole. READ THE FULL NPR: First Listen PIECE.