Shy Nobleman loses his shyness about Hebrew

39-year-old Ramat Gan native has returned with a twist – his first album in Hebrew.

Shy Nobleman (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shy Nobleman
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shy Nobleman used to be on a mission to revive the underappreciated musical genre of power pop. Well before it became de rigueur for Israeli musicians to write and perform in English, Nobleman released two gems of albums – 2001’s How to Be Shy and 2005’s Beautiful Life – that hearkened back favorably to the guitar pop days of The Raspberries, Big Star and the jangly rock of The Byrds.
Despite the international acclaim (and local airplay) that the records received, Nobleman didn’t become an overnight sensation. But following a long gap between recorded projects, the 39-year-old Ramat Gan native has returned with a twist – his first album in Hebrew.
“I just felt that my soul wanted to do it,” Nobleman told The Jerusalem Post last week about Yomi Hu Chalom (My Day is A Dream). “It was something natural for me to do, since it’s been years since I was living abroad, and hearing more Hebrew rather than English had the effect on me.”
A musician since his parents bought him a drum set when he was 11, Nobleman joined the popular band Dr. Kasper’s Rabbits Show as a bassist upon completion of his army service. After the band’s breakup in 1996, he moved to London to pursue a musical career and study communications at the London Guildhall University.
After a series of stalled attempts with British bands and on his own, Nobleman returned to Israel and In 2001, recruited friends from the band Rockfour to record his debut album.
“Listening to The Kinks taught me how to write my first songs,” says Nobleman.
“From there I went deeper into ’60s psych pop bands: The Move, Kaleidoscope, Syd Barrett, Scott Walker, The Byrds, The Left Banke and The Moody Blues. I think it was the time when the best music in the world was created, 1966 to 1973. I also love new music, of course, but these bands will be always remain in my DNA.”
The All Music Guide called How To Be Shy, an “above-average psychedelic/’ 60s-style effort” and touted its “Byrdsian guitars… whimsical British folkpsych, pounding Whoish hard rock, and bouncy 1967-style McCartney-like pop.”
He became a mainstay on Israeli stages and his 2005 follow-up – recorded with help from Geva Alon and Useless ID frontman Yotam Ben-Horin – spawned a hit single, “Girlfriend.”
Having focused on other endeavors in recent years, including writing a popular Internet sports show and being the voice of the Hebrew Donald Duck on the local Disney Channel, Nobleman said he was inspired to write and record a batch of songs in Hebrew due to residing in Old Jaffa.
“It was inspiring. I went for a daily walk at the port, watching the fisherman and the boats, exploring the churches, and the colorful Ajami neighborhood. It was special,” said Nobleman.
A photo of the port in 1898 graces the cover of the album. In addition to 11 originals, the album also features two covers translated into Hebrew : Les Irresistibles’s “My Year is a Day,” and “Demons” originally by Super Furry Animals.
“I have never tried to follow musical fashions, or tried to be up-to-date,” says Nobleman. “I just do what I want to, and I think that created my music identity – and I’m glad that there are people who love it.”