Yael Deckelbaum has a lot going for her. She is blessed with a fine voice and a pretty decent musical upbringing, as well as a clearly inquisitive mind. The latter comes to the fore in the wide spread of styles and genres she incorporated in her new CD, Enosh, the release of which will be celebrated at a gig at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv Wednesday evening (8:30 p.m.).
Enosh is 35-year-old Deckelbaum’s third album, and follows Joy and Sadness and Ground Zero, which came out in 2012 and 2009 respectively. The singer-songwriter doesn’t attach too much importance to the – to date – uniform release time lapse, and is also happy for listeners to take her lyrics any which way they please. When I suggest that “Individual,” the Hebrew-language fifth cut on the CD, may be about a yearning to settle down and have a family, Deckelbaum – who has been in a steady relationship for some time – disagrees, but doesn’t make too much of my misguided take on the story behind the song.
“I have messages to convey through my songs, but it is all multidirectional. It doesn’t matter how people understand what I sing about, as long as it touches the heart.”
Enosh is an enchanting mix of moods, textures, sounds, colors and sentiments that take in a genre palette of rock, pop, soul, blues and reggae sensibilities. Much of that eclecticism can be put down to genetics. Deckelbaum’s father was David Deckelbaum, a founder member of the legendary folk-country Taverners band, which performed and recorded from 1976 to 2002, and a fine old-style banjo player himself.
Deckelbaum Sr. first offered his eight-yearold daughter a chance to strut her infant musical stuff on stage at the Jacob’s Ladder Festival.
Thanks to a steady paternal guiding hand, Deckelbaum’s musical upbringing took in folk, 1960s pop and rock, country music and Irish songs, including the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Mitchell’s trademark sound and textual approach comes through the clearest on “Mystical Morning,” which also provides an efficient vehicle for showcasing the warmth and alluring fabric of Deckelbaum’s wonderfully elastic vocals.
Yael Deckelbaum of Enosh is an older, more mature and bolder person and musician than the one we got on the first two releases.
“I am less made-up on this,” she notes.
“Less dressed up.”
Actually, the fetching visage that stares out of you from the CD cover photo has a modicum of makeup on it, certainly more than the everyday Deckelbaum-on-thestreet.
“That’s Yael too,” she declares. “I only put on makeup for photo sessions and shows.
It’s part of being a professional artist and that’s fine too. To begin with it was hard for me to go along with that, but I’m fine with that today.”
Deckelbaum appears to be in a good place altogether.
“I have learned to live with my inner critics,” she says. “When you write a song there are a lot of obstacles which can get in the way of the writing process. You have all sorts of voices in your head, doubting voices – is this good enough? Does it get my message across? Creating involves connecting with the inner font. Over the years I have mollified the inner barriers, to allow the creativity to come out. I have learned that creativity involves work. It’s not just a matter of finding the inspiration, you have to work at it.”
Mind you, it’s not that Deckelbaum keeps bashing her head against the wall if she is stumped for the next line, or if a melody just won’t string along.
“I have times when I am more productive, and times when things don’t come out so easily. But that’s OK too. I have learned to feel when there is something gestating inside me. I can’t know what exactly it is, and what it will look like when it comes out, but I know that creativity is something that has been a part of me all my life. I know that the stronger I connect with that, the more open the channel [of writing music].”
At the age of 35, with three solo albums behind her, as well as globetrotting work with the highly popular Bnot Nechama female trio, Deckelbaum appears to be at ease in her own skin. Gone are the days of trying to produce monumental works of musical art that will grab the world by the jugular and shake it until it sits up and takes notice. Today, she just wants to get her thing out there, as is, and hope for the best.
“I am not looking to reinvent the wheel, especially not in this day and age. That’s been done. I want to bring my own wheel out. I just want to bring myself out, from the most genuine place. I don’t want to tailor what I do too much. That’s very much what this album is about. I constantly work on the connection, with myself. That’s my life mission.”
Much of the work that went into putting Enosh together was facilitated by the efforts and rich experience of internationally acclaimed bass guitarist and record producer Yossi Fine. In the run-up to the recording, Fine encouraged Deckelbaum to just be herself, and to let her own voice do the work. Veteran percussionist Gilad Dobrecky is also a major player in the Enosh project.
Allowing Deckelbaum’s totality to flow freely meant bringing all her genetic and accrued baggage into play, and the Joni Mitchell influence certainly plays a role in that. In fact, Deckelbaum attributes the Mitchell signature in “Mystical Morning” to Fine’s contribution to the number.
“Yossi plays acoustic bass guitar on that song, and it came out a bit like Joni Jaco.”
The synergy in questions refers to Mitchell’s work with late iconic bass player Jaco Pastorius, who played a definitive role on Mitchell’s 1976 folk-rock-jazz masterpiece Hejira.
There is also a neat alliterative symmetry to the Joni-Jaco and Yael-Yossi analogy.
“I am influenced by Joni, and there is no other artist I would rather be influenced by,” says Deckelbaum. “Sometimes it doesn’t just feel like she influenced me, it feels like we came from the same planet.”
Deckelbaum is also very appreciative of Fine’s work on Enosh, and says it couldn’t have happened without him.
“He produced the album, and helped me be myself,” she says. “He said his role was not to get in my way.”
Right now, Deckelbaum’s way ahead looks and sounds just the way it should.
For tickets and more information about the show at the Barby Club: (03) 518-8123 and www.barby.co.il.