Released in 2009 on the Anova Music label (2010 in the US on Strange Attractors Audio), Remember is Yair Yona's debut solo album. It is one of those albums that strikes with an incredible, if subtle, 'wow' factor.
Having played in a number of bands (mainly on bass guitar), Yona reveals himself as an extraordinary and highly sensitive solo guitarist (mainly acoustic) on Remember, as well as an exceptional and original composer, all the tracks being originals. The album's charm is only enhanced by the touches of déja vu that pervade it, rather than being diminished by them, and the charm of Remember strikes immediately and never lets go.
During his studies in Britain, Yona fell under the spell of British folk music, and most particularly that of Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch (founding member of Pentangle). This influence seems to have persisted after Yona's return to Israel as it is clearly discernible throughout Remember, although subtly so. Other touches of déja vu come from Yair Yona's intricate picking style - combined with gentle, beautiful, often soulful melodies - that often reminds of such greats as Ry Cooder, John Fahey, Tom Verlaine, and even banjoist Bela Fleck.
Stylistically, Remember is largely folk- and blues-based with more or less heavy doses of ragtime, country, nu-grass and bluegrass. This equation resolves as pure delight. Some of Yona's influences are gratefully acknowledged in some of the tunes. Thus, we have Floodgate Opens To Allow Ship To Come Through (As It Carries The Passenger Fahey On It) inspired by John Fahey, Sympathy For The Jack dedicated to Jack Rose (and Jack Daniels!), and Skinny Fists starting as a tribute to Robbie Basho and ending with a homage to Godspeed You! Black Emperor - the title deriving from the latter's album title, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven.
If this album is anything to go by, then the world has a new solo guitar great in Yair Yona, and it is all the more a great pity that he is 'hidden away' in Israel. It is only strongly to be hoped that Yona will be able to tour extensively on both sides of the Atlantic and delight us all, as well as penetrate a wider consciousness to become aware of his great talent.
As well as acoustic 6 and 12 string guitars, Yona also plays resonator, bass, Weissenborn acoustic slide, and electric guitars as well as banjo and synths on Remember. And each and every one with the same dexterity, skill and great musicianship.
Some guest musicians are called upon for a few of the tracks, most notably the closer, Skinny Fists. Here, the dense sound which includes a string trio seems to contrast strongly with the rest of the album but makes for a rather dramatic and quite fitting finale that fits in seamlessly.
Not only is Remember as thoroughly consistent an album as one could wish for, it is also utterly compelling, nay, mesmerising. A work of outstanding musical beauty, Remember is full of charm, wit, elegance, and exuberance. Yona is a truly outstanding new guitarist-songwriter or guitarist-composer, if you prefer, in the finest tradition of the genre. With Remember, he has delivered a simply brilliant debut album.
As a bonus, the album comes in a beautifully designed simple gatefold - no plastic to break, slim, lightweight. Great.
If you're at all, and in any way, into any kind of guitar music, contemporary folk, blues or any of the other styles encountered here, then Yair Yona's Remember is way past essential and one heck of a 'must-have.' That aside, it also simply belongs in any truly good music collection. Remember will certainly remain a very big favourite here for a very long time, played often and no doubt still leaving something new to be discovered every time.
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