[28 October 2010]
Yair Yona is an Israeli guitar player whose album Remember is a collection of instrumental guitar tunes that showcase his impressive skills. “Remember” kicks off the album with a gently swaying slide guitar riff, while “Are You Smarter than a 35 Year Old TV Host?” sounds like an undiscovered gem from the Bert Jansch songbook, notwithstanding its jokey title. “Russian Dance” channels a faintly Slavic vibe—no surprise there—in a pure acoustic-guitar tune. The lively “Struggled So Hard” features a dancing melody over a thrumming down-tuned bass D string. Many of the tunes feature unorthodox tunings, which Yona helpfully lists in the liner notes. The centerpiece of the record, “Floodgates Open to Allow a Ship to Come Through (As It Carries the Passenger Fahey On It)” is a stately number that brings some echoey piano and electric guitars into the mix, though they are much muted and firmly in the background.
Anyone looking for traditional pop songcraft—you know with singers, drummers, that sort of thing—would best look elsewhere. Only “Floodgate” and album closer “Skinny Fists” offer anything resembling an ensemble sound, and those songs stand out mainly in contrast to the studied austerity of the rest of the record. Make no mistake, Yair Yona is a solid talent—one listen to “Brave Walls” makes that clear—but his form of solo musicianship is a niche taste.