At the time of this review biographical information on the Net about this artist is scarce. Born in Israel, he obviously spent time in New York and London and left impressions as an author and director of several plays.
And so it does not come as a surprise that one of the first things to notice about this album (his debut, recorded in Berlin) is the artfulness of lyrics. But the crave for perfection went further to cover melody, harmony and arrangement. There is no outside producer mentioned on the CD so all credit goes to Mr. Lavie. This artist knows what he is doing.
The music is simple and complex at the same time, a good fundament for "long burners" (once again the matured Beatles come to mind). Acoustic instruments clearly define the spectrum besides guitar and piano, ranging from string quartet to bandoneon. Percussion is used like spice here and there, so don't expect dance floor useability. As for the voice, listen and judge yourself; even if it might not match your taste it certainly fits in perfectly. There are voice arrangements to wet the eyes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and probably Young; in other songs Chris Rea might listen up suddenly.
Putting a label tag on the music is hard, and that is a good thing. Even filing it roughly under "Folk" or "Singer/Songwriter" is not really convincing.
Each and every song comes with its own style; occasional borrowing from pop music history is always twisted to create uniqueness. By use of seemingly simple means Oren Lavie accomplishes to get most listeners first attention, only to leave at least some of them playing the songs over and over again to acknowledge each interesting detail and ending up whistling along (I've seen it with others - and I've done it). By then, the question of categorizing the music has dissolved into oblivion.
If you mostly want beat and drive in your music this album is probably not for you. For people who enjoy more subtle, in hardly any way sad, rather dreamy moods from time to time: listen and get hooked.
One more word to be sure: I'm not connected to artist or label in _ANY_ way. I _AM_ working professionally with music at the archive of a television station so thanks to an early delivery I had the opportunity to access the CD way ahead of the official release (we get 50-60 new releases every week). But my writing here is purely private and reviewing or promoting anything is not part of my job.
It's just that I know good music when I hear it.