Yair Yona is a resourceful Israeli guitarist and producer, whose solo debut salutes legendary and innovative finger-picking guitarists from both sides of the Atlantic such as John Fahey, Leo Kottke and Bert Jansch. But Yona does not shy away from updating these guitarists' influential legacies and sounds, with references to modern indie post-rock groups and guitarists such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jack Montrose and Robbie Basho.
Throughout the album, Yona experiments with different strategies that reflect on past legacies, showing immense knowledge, and delivers his compositions in an assured and unique voice, and in a highly accessible manner. The opening track is a clear tribute to the past, with its spare bluesy slide guitar strumming, but Yona mixes the familiar sounds with an atmospheric mysterious drone. "Are You Smarter Than a 35 TV Host?" is a sentimental straightforward folksy tune that is threatened by distant noises. "Russian Dance" skips between traditional timbres, Yona sounding as if he is playing a balalaikaand a dense, more sophisticated elaboration of such imaginary dance.
"Pharoah" contains fantastic, virtuous slide guitar playing, wisely composed and delivered with a fully-formed and singular voice. On "Straggled So Hard," Yona echoes his folksy acoustic guitar with exceptional electric guitar playing. "Floodgate Opens To Allow A Ship To Come Through (As It Carries The Passenger Fahey On It)" is a direct tribute to Fahey's drone-based playing, but its dark sounds are still rooted in some obscure traditional guitar finger-picking. "Brave Walls" is an acoustic six-string guitar solo that pays its dues to Kottke's melodic style.
Yona concludes this impressive release with the genre-bending "Skinny Fists," that skips and celebrates his passion for all of his diverse influences.
Track Listing: Remember; Are You Smarter Than a 35 Year Old TV Host?; Russian Dance; Pharaoh; Struggled So Hard; Floodgate Opens to Allow a Ship to Come Through (As It Carries the Passenger Fahey On It); Broken Rockin' Chair; Brave Walls; Sympathy For the Jack--Skinny Fists.
Personnel: Yair Yona: 6 and 12 string acoustic, electric, resonator, bass and Weissenborn slide guitars, banjo, synthesizers; Or Bahir: electric guitars (6, 10); Issar Tennenbaum: drums (10); String Quartet (10).
The first jazz record I received
as a visiting gift from my
Japanese uncle at his
international division of
Toshiba EMI Tokyo was a
sample copy of Miles Davis'
Bitches Brew. A game
changer redirecting my
browsing habits and collection.