ODED BEN-AMI’s “Beyond”

odedbenami(www.odedbenami.com, 2009):

“Why don’t you start now
Turn off the TV
Bring up the courage
To live your own dreams”

– from “The Art of Living”

A recent transplant to the Capital Region from NYC, singer-songwriter-pianist Oded Ben-Ami is living his own dreams with the release of his debut album, “Beyond.”

On his website, Ben-Ami declares, “Some of the tracks are songs, some are piano instrumentals. Some are neither.” I’m not exactly sure what he means by that, but the results are intriguing. And intimate.

This is a purposefully minimalistic affair – just Ben-Ami on piano and vocals. No flashy guest stars, no studio gimmickery, no irony, no tricks, no foolin’ around.

He wrote all of the music and most of the lyrics for these dozen songs, and his primary lyrical theme seems to be the corruption of the American dream through conspicuous consumerism.

The songs on the album – especially “Those Happy People,” “Oscar,” the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ “Way of Sheep” and the angst-ridden, almost crippling “Troubled” – sound as though they belong onstage in an off-Broadway musical about an outsider who can’t conform to society’s norms.

On first listen, I found Ben-Ami’s vocals a little too shakey and not up to the level of his songwriting skills. But the more I listened to the disc, the more he won me over.

I think his somewhat “pitchy” vocals are the perfect voice for this catalog of songs. And there’s something about his phrasing – especially the way his voice trails off at the end of lyrical lines – that unmistakably reminds me of the Incredible String Band.

And that’s certainly not a bad thing at all.

Oded Ben-Ami plays piano and sings at Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary in Colonie at 7pm on Friday, August 21.

  1. Judy says

    I heard and loved Oded Ben-Ami’s songs.
    I was a bit disapointed that the song “our love song” was not mentioned in the article. This is one of the most wonderful love songs I have ever heard.
    I also loved the instrumental pieces. They are, in my point of view, very powerful.

  2. Dwayne says

    I saw Oded’s live performance in Niskayuna and agree that the material was unique in it’s content and style and some of it does lean towards a broadway production style. I have found that there is a depth in the live sessions that cannot be easily transfered onto the CD. I do appreciate the positive review much of it is true but if any of your readers get the opportunity to hear it live please avail yourself to it.

    Yes, Judy I agree “Our Love Song” was wonderful but you might need to know Oded a little to really appreciate it.

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