Sylvie Simmons’ name is best known as the author of biographies of Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen and of articles that have appeared regularly in the well-regarded British music magazine MOJO. But this wanderer—who currently calls San Francisco home after years in L.A., France, and London, where she was born and raised—took up the ukulele for its “sad, fractured sweetness” and “modesty." ("It almost apologizes for being there.”) Impressed, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb recorded Simmons direct to tape while acting as her “band” along with the Sand’s Thoger Lund. Reminiscent of music by Kendra Smith and Vashti Bunyan, Sylvie is filled with low-key beauty.

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