Liron Amram may only be in his late twenties, but he appears to have a wise head on his young shoulders.
A few years back a world renowned jazz musician, then in his thirties and with several CDs already to his name, bemoaned the fact that contemporary technology had facilitated record production, and that many young members of the fraternity were opting to release their first recorded fruits before it was time.
Amram certainly can’t be accused of jumping the gun with his debut offering, Tamid Otto Sipur (Always the Same Story). Thus far he has released a couple of singles from the album, the title track and “Halom Yashan” (Old Dream), which are gaining a decent amount of radio airplay, and the singer does not appear to be in a hurry to get his work out there.
“The songs have accumulated over the past two-three years, and gradually accumulated into an album,” he explains. “I eventually decided to release it.” The full-blown product will be available toward the end of 2017.
For now, Amram is happy to tour the country with his Panthers band, and has a couple of gigs approaching fast – at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem this Saturday, followed by a show at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv on September 15. He says we can expect to hear a third track from the CD playing on the radio before too long.
“The second single is on the Galgalatz playlist,” he notes with satisfaction.
“Everything is moving in the right direction, thank God.”
The fact is, things have been developing nicely for Amram since he was hardly knee-high to a grasshopper.
Amram’s father is noted Yemenite born singer, composer and researcher of Yemenite Jewish music Aaron Amram. The youngster naturally gravitated toward musical matters and made his public singing appearances at the local synagogue, and soon began performing on stage with his father.
“I’ve been in the field for a long time,” he says. “‘Halom Yashan’ was the first step of something new, but I have been writing songs since the age of 12, and I started singing with my dad, in the synagogue. I come from a home where it was normal to sing, and to be musical – even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.”
By the time he was 13, in addition to school, and hanging out with pals, Amram had a pretty busy performance schedule, which took in liturgical material, at the synagogue, and a mix of religion-informed a secular numbers he sang, both with and without his venerated father.
They say that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and the same can be said of child prodigies who seem to be utterly inured to stage fright.
Amram says that was the case with him, in his early days as an entertainer, but that it was a different story with exercising his vocal chords for public consumption closer to home.
“I was more worried when I went to sing in the synagogue,” he recalls.
“There you have some sort of commitment, while the stage is a place that is lighter and more pleasant, at least for me.”
That was a while back, and Amram is now the consummate professional.
“It’s different for me, with the stage, today,” he states. “Today, when I take the stage I go into work mode, and I am very focused.”
That early prayer service training stands Amram in good stead today.
He says he feeds off his liturgical background, although he tends to pick and choose from the canon.
“There are all different kinds of material within [Jewish] Yemenite music,” he expounds. “There is music that is more secular. In Yemen, women would sing that music,” naturally, only to other women. “And there was sacred music, in which only men engaged.”
Amram is from the younger, Israeli- born generation, and feels less bound by traditional markers.
“I play around with things, and I sing more piyutim of women. These are songs that talk about love, nature, landscapes, that sort of thing – things that are more in line with contemporary song.”
Amram’s secular leanings are also the result of the milieu in which he moved, and genes.
As a kid he’d accompany his father to New York during Rosh Hashana- Sukkot period, when Amram Sr.
served as cantor at a New York synagogue.
That exposed the youngster to MTV and American rock and pop vibes, which left their imprint of the teenagers’ personal and musical consciousness.
Mind you, going with the extraneous flow was not exactly a new departure.
Amram Sr. had done plenty of that himself after making aliya from Yemen as a youth, and later introducing electric guitars and other Western instruments to his act. There was a backlash to that adventurous line of artistic expression.
“My dad had his critics back then, but he was also steeped in the tradition,” says Amram. “I am too.”
You can certainly hear that on “Halom Yashan” with its thudding bass and drumming. But when Amram’s vocals float into the sonic mix, with their root trills, you know he is not cocking a snook at Yemenite heritage, just doing what he feels comes naturally.
Considering his background it might be taken as a given that Amram would follow suit, by fusing traditional and contemporary music fare.
“No, I don’t think it should be taken for granted that I chose this musical path,” he notes. “You always have to be focused, and introspect.
You have to make sure you know what the real objective is, and why you are doing this. That’s something I work at all the time.”For tickets and more information: Jerusalem – (02) 679-4040 and http://yellowsubmarine.org.il, Tel Aviv – *9080 and www.zappa-club.co.il.