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Asaf Avidan and The Mojos Album Review : Poor Boy,Lucky Man
Album Review : Poor Boy/Lucky Man
Hailing from Israel, musician Asaf Avidan has built a name for himself with his eclectic songwriting, embracing several elements of folk and rock, topped by is unique and and unpredictable vocal range: something that has been described as in between the soulfulness of Janis Joplin, the sharp edge of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and the eclecticism of Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta, At The-Drive-In)
Avidan put together a talented bunch of musicians to back him up during his live performances, and the band eventually settled down to become his stable support, The Mojos.
After a great number of live exhibitions all over Israel and the USA in support of their first work, "The reckoning", the group ended up in the recording studio to work on what will become "Poor boy / Lucky Man", a concept album revolved around the life of a boy born with a hole instead of his own heart, asking the listener a question: Is this a lucky situation, or is it the story of a poor boy?
The 14 tracks present on the album are sung in English, and Asaf's soulful voice is backed by a set of tracks, with their strength lying both in their simplicity and in their unpredictability.
Asaf avidan & The mojos- Lucky man/ Poor boy
The opener "Brickman" let's listeners submerge is a dreamy folk tale, where bright guitars and xylophones create an embracing texture, climaxing in the feast of sound a circus-like outre.
The story telling goes on whit folk ballad "Poor Boy", built upon a very simple set of chords on the acoustic guitar, closely reminiscent of the work of Neil Young, and enriched by the dialogue between the singer's performance and the sinuous cello line.
"Got it right" and "My favorite clown" somehow belong together: a steady blues-rock number characterized by the unique tone of the 12 strings acoustic guitars alternates to a roomy carpet of strings. The spicy vocal performance and powerful harmonies are largely inspired by Beatles's more experimental era (Think The White Album or something from Revolver).
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"Small change girl" leaves the folk aside for a while, focusing on a pop-rock with a very late 60s flavor to it, driven by the embracing texture of the piano and by the cello lines.
The song bleeds into the jazz flavored "The ghost of a thousand", which points out how deep and emotional Asaf's vocals can be. The tune sets an even pace and a quiet mood, that unexpectedly crashes into what is the most experimental tune so far, switching mood at halfway to explore 70s pro rock elements a la King Crimson.
"Wasting my time" is also a very unexpected song to find on this record, which after a rather quiet 20 minutes of folk-oriented music, finally puts the foot on the gas to deliver a super-tight garage rock and roll influenced tune, characterized by the blues-rock swagger of the lead vocals and a very essential song structure, where the twangy, overdriven guitars are under the spotlight, creating a great contrasting sensation to what has been done before on the album. Along the same lines follows the "Led Zeppellinian" Jet Plan, and "Little Stallion", which reminds the viscerally of the early things released by The Kinks, built upon a primordial guitar riffs.
"Your anchor" brings back the acoustic guitars, offering more modern take on the folk-approach, bleeding into "Losing Hand" and its mesmerizing guitar-drums patterns.
The band has opted for a very naked and introspective sound for the last three numbers on the record, "Painting on the past", "Out in the cold", "Latest sin" , where the acoustic guitars and Asaf's unique vocals are on the forefront of the arrangements.
In conclusion, this record is a great cocktail featuring the best ingredients that helped shape folk and rock from the late 60s to the first half of the 70s, reinterpreted by Asaf Avidan and The Mojos with a very personal and unique feel to it, and while the whole album has a very retro vibe to it, it doesn't have the word "nostalgic" stamped on it, but it is definitely a fresh and exciting piece of work.