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Yoav - Charmed And Strange

Yoav, Charmed & Strange

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

ISRAELI born singer/songwriter Yoav claims his debut album Charmed And Strange was inspired by the likes of The Neptunes, Timbaland and Kruder & Dorfmeister.

Hence, he has created a unique mix of hip hop beats and guitar pop, all played on his acoustic guitar via various effects pedals and studio trickery. The result is an utterly compelling listen and evidence of a major new talent.
Yoav first shot to fame when asked to support Tori Amos in 2007, but his sound and style are – by his own admission – more akin to Beck colliding with Jeff Buckley while enjoying a meeting with Bjork. He would also have us believe there’s traces of Dylan and Eminem. And if that sounds a strange mix, wait til you hear the results.

Early suspicions that Yoav might be restricted by simply using an acoustic guitar prove unfounded as the album quickly hooks you in and refuses to let go. Former single, Club Thing, for instance, emerges as a seductive tale of clubland excess in which the singer-songwriter confidently combines atmospheric acoustic guitar riffs with Timbaland’s style of beat-making. The hand-struck beats bounce off the acoustic wood to create a stripped-back but effective, even hip, percussion while Yoav’s vocals effectively combine the falsetto style of Justin Timberlake with a world-weary depth more akin to Beck and Thom Yorke.

The beat is near incessant early on in Live, a pulse-quickener that talks of adrenaline hits and fading stars, while the guitar chords take centre stage on One By One, a beguiling charmer that really showcases the magnitude of Yoav’s ability to take one instrument and make it sound like ten. The chorus, especially, is tellingly effective.

There’s a full-blooded rock vibe surrounding the raw, unapologetic There Is Nobody, and a brooding intensity to the slow-burning, almost cinematic Wake Up that continues to impress, while Beautiful Lie stands out as an album highlight – an initially stripped down offering, complete with haunted vocals, that slowly unfolds into an ethereal beauty. The guitar work is especially strong late on.

There’s a very definite sense of Beck, circa Odelay, on another personal favourite, Yeah, The End, which works a compelling hip-hop infused beat around some intricate guitar licks and a husky vocal that Joseph Arthur would be proud of.

While his cover of The Pixies’ seminal Where Is My Mind, which brings the album to a close, succeeds where it really should have failed. By stripping down the song’s usually distinct guitar work, Yoav instead brings out the brilliance of the songwriting and adds an even more haunting quality. It’ll divide listeners, for sure, but there’s no denying it brings an at times dazzling debut to a suitably provocative end. We can’t wait to see where Yoav goes from here.

Download picks: Club Thing, One By One, Wake Up, Beautiful Lie, Yeah, The End, There Is Nobody

Track listing

  1. Adore Adore
  2. Club Thing
  3. Live
  4. One By One
  5. There Is Nobody
  6. Wake Up
  7. Beautiful Lie
  8. Angel And The Animal
  9. Sometimes…
  10. Yeah, The End
  11. Where Is My Mind