On her U.S. debut, "The You and the Now," French-Canadian singer/cellist Jorane impresses with her dark-toned bowing and ethereal vocals.

On her U.S. debut, "The You and the Now," French-Canadian singer/cellist Jorane impresses with her dark-toned bowing and ethereal vocals. With a collection of mysterious originals (some penned with such co-writers as Lisa Germano and Simon Wilcox), Jorane tells pensive personal stories in settings that range from the dreamy (the whispery "Roll the Stars") to the rhythmically clipped (the fresh opening track "Stay") to the shape-shifting (the journey-like "Come Back Again"). Highlights are the gorgeous "Red Mountains," reminiscent of early Jane Siberry's reflective balladry, and the Middle Eastern-tinged "Blue Planet" with its compelling views on modern slavery. But the jury is still out on whether Jorane's cello-fueled jaunt through Donna Summer's hit "I Feel Love" succeeds or is just an unimaginative throwaway that oddly fits with the rest of her songs. The hourlong CD lags in stretches and could have benefited from a two- or three-tune trim.—DO

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