Sabra Sounds

Geva Alon's latest album sounds nothing like what's available on the local music market. And that's a compliment.

geva disk 88 298 (photo credit: )
geva disk 88 298
(photo credit: )
GEVA ALON Days of Hunger (Blue Sun/Hatav Hashmini) Geva Alon's latest album sounds nothing like what's available on the local music market. And that's a compliment. When a friend heard Days of Hunger during a car ride recently, he asked who the musician was and where he was from. Alon, the lead singer and guitarist for Israeli trio The Flying Baby, has now released a debut solo effort, with English-language, acoustically-driven folk, rock and country pieces that offer a genuine Americana atmosphere. Singing in English can be disastrous for non-English speakers, but Alon pulls it off with only a slight accent identifiable on certain songs. On Days of Hunger, Alon leaves behind his cynical Flying Baby rock and roll persona and seems to return instead to his hopeful Kibbutz roots. In terms of style, the 14 tracks wander between blues, folk, country and rock. "Long Summer Night" is a two-minute country hoedown; the title track fits the folk-rock model; and "On This Birthday" is a blues-rock song of love that sounds optimistic without being cheesy. Alon's lyrics are meant to be thoughtful but encounter a problem in their simplicity. For example, on "A Girl Like You," he sings, "I never met a girl like you before/ You always wait for me behind the door/And I am sure that you will kill my pain/'Cause in your arms it's warm and never rains." That Alon chose to sing in English is commendable, but if he hopes to crack the international music market with this album - as his trio did with its previous releases - he should have written more sophisticated lyrics. People abroad won't buy the album just because an Israeli sang in English. On the other hand, what Alon lacks in lyrics he makes up for musically. While the musician was praised for his hard rock sound with The Flying Baby, he proves here that he can also craft intimate and melodic songs. LAROZ Sound System (Hatav Hashmini) Haim Laroz says in the promotional material for Sound System that the album is "the" CD for this summer. It definitely has groovy, fun beats, with the 12 tracks offering a sampling of beat-box, reggae, dub, dancehall, ragamuffin and ambient styles, among others. The Israeli Laroz, who now resides in Australia, layers ethnic music into his electronic pieces. Before going solo, Laroz worked as a producer for a number of the country's top acts, including Berry Sakharof, Ivri Lider and Amir Lev. He also remixed the Pet Shop Boys with some funky beats. Unlike most of those previous efforts, Sound System is entirely in English. On "Heights of Society," "Israel Region" and "Ital," Laroz raps about his native country, though one needs to listen carefully to catch what he's saying because of the speed at which he sings. Laroz collaborates on 11 of the 12 tracks with other Israeli and Australian artists. One of them, Omri Anghel, provides awesome beats, rhythms and melodies using his mouth (also at a lightning pace), especially on "Bit Box Dancing." A follow-up album to All Stars (2003), Sound System carries Israeli artists forward in the trip-hop, hip-hop and dub fields. Whether this is the definitive summer album is debatable, but Laroz's work on Sound System makes it a great party CD indeed.