Sunday, November 27, 2016

Orit Shimoni – Soft Like Snow

Soft Like Snow
MW Music

One of my favorite times and ways to listen to music is late at night, in a quiet dark room, via headphones. And it is quiet, sad, poetic, thought-provoking songs that I particularly like to listen to late at night, in a quiet dark room, via headphones. Some of Leonard Cohen’s albums – like Songs of Leonard Cohen or Songs from a Room – are filled with those kinds of songs. So is Soft Like Snow, the new 10-song collection by Orit Shimoni, the artist once known as Little Birdie.

Soft Like Snow is an album that speaks of love, loss of love, memory and the futility of war. One of the best songs, “Playing Chelsea Hotel,” is a direct nod to Leonard Cohen, which was made ever more poignant because I listened to the album for the first time on the same day I learned that Leonard had died.

“Playing Chelsea Hotel” describes a brief encounter with a busking accordion player singing Leonard’s “Chelsea Hotel,” a fleeting moment of harmony when she added her voice to his, and her lingering thoughts about the busker after she’d moved on.

Another highlight is the title song, “Soft Like Snow,” which conjures wintertime images as the narrator describes searching for comfort as she contemplates carrying on after the end of an affair of the heart.

While Orit wrote and plays most of the songs on guitar, she is at the piano – playing and singing quietly but intensely – for some of the album’s most interesting songs. Among them is “Room to Myself,” set in a hotel room late at night, the television on but without sound, as she again contemplates an ended relationship and a life spent largely moving from place to place.

Another of the piano songs is “Fool,” the most thought-provoking song on Soft Like Snow. In “Fool,” Orit addresses a soldier enjoying a day at the beach, a day on which the soldier is able to escape conflict. But while the soldier is not physically at the front, she is not able to escape the thoughts of an innocent child, or innocent children, caught up in the conflict. Orit spent much of her life in Israel – a country that has known much conflict and where there is compulsory military service – and while I don’t know if Orit served in the Israeli army before moving to Canada as a young woman, I can’t help but think that she, herself, is the soldier being addressed in the song.

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--Mike Regenstreif

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