This album is a many-splendored thing, but good lord. What a voice.
Hearing Asaf Avidan’s voice for the first time is a jolt. Halfway through Gold Shadow, it sounded as natural as could be — versatile and expressive, too — but it seemed almost improbable at first. The combination of flexibility and gritty texture. He’s a reminder of something that’s easy to take for granted — that even though voices are like fingerprints, getting to hear something wholly distinct is rare and valuable.
Ironically/paradoxically/whichever, it’s impossible not to hear threads of other distinctive voices woven throughout these songs. I can list a few — Bob Marley’s flutter at the tip-top of the word “trepidation” in “Little Parcels Of An Endless Time,” Bob Dylan in “Fair Haired Traveller,” flashes of Nina Simone and Shirley Bassey — but one of the great joys of Gold Shadow is feeling those strands brush against you unexpectedly, and multiple listens beget continued surprises. (The arrangements keep you on your toes as well, with savvy dynamics and instrumentation that’s both varied and fully realized.)
On a not unrelated note, “These Words You Want To Hear” makes me want to hear Drew Gillihan sing. So damn good.
The writing is A+, the lyrics have a remarkable clarity to them — rhymes often feel preordained instead of fashioned — songs evolve with just the right degree of drama… add in Avidan’s voice and you’ve got something truly unforgettable, and you can hear the whole thing right now via NPR First Listen. Or you can check out “The Jail That Sets You Free” below.