When you listen to the quavering voice and delicate poetic lyrics of Israeli-born singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan on his recently released album “Gold Shadow,” or view his spare YouTube video for “Reckoning Song (One Day),” you begin to understand the critical accolades that he’s received since releasing his first work in 2006. There is indeed something reminiscent of both Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan in Avidan’s sound and vision that will surely be on display as he starts his first solo tour of America this month.
“I hear that critique and feel unqualified,” says the 36-year-old with a laugh. “I’m certainly inspired by Dylan. I can only try and write the most honest depictions of my thoughts and I’m proud to have vocal chords to do that with.”
Avidan may have been born in Jerusalem to diplomat parents for the Israeli Foreign Office, but the young animator-turned-songwriter’s life never singularly focused on his home land. As an artist whose cinematic short *Find Love Now* won several foreign film fests in his teen years, Avidan was (and is) a citizen of the world who spoke as much of romance as he did sorrow in his music.
“Understanding mortality, understanding reasons to be here, understanding tragedy — there is a search for meaning in my work, to confront life. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about romance or something political.” As an aside to the politics of his native country, Avidan says that he has watched America’s recent Presidential circus on the left and the right and compares the coming-and-goings of Trump and Sanders to a “sort of avalanche.”
That Avidan didn’t pick up a guitar and compose until age 26, comes down to the motivation of heartache; a long-term love relationship that went south.
“I began songwriting just to express myself, what I was feeling inside, to get out those particular feelings,” he says of his earliest resulting work, his debut EP, “Now That You’re Leaving.” Now that those songs are a decade-old, Avidan looks at the lust and heartbreak of that moment as a “set of emotions I had to unleash, like a diary.”
After playing solo for that EP, Avidan formed the Mojos, a successful indie-folk-rock ensemble whose three albums went platinum in his native land. Still, Avidan was restless and by 2011, disbanded the outfit to go back to being a solo act. “That’s the million dollar question, why I did that,” he chuckles. “I wrote and sung the songs, it came down to compromise.”
Avidan wanted to make his vision his own again, which brings listeners to richly poetic and primarily acoustic folksy solo records such as “Different Pulses” (2012) and another stream-of-conscious break-up album “Gold Shadow” (2015), the latter including “The Labyrinth Song” which gives his upcoming tour its name – Into the Labyrinth.
“This is who I am – I want to challenge people – so maybe that is why I chose that title.”
If you go:
Wednesday, April 13
64 North 9th Street, Brooklyn
Saturday, April 16
Boot & Saddle
1131 South Broad Street
Sunday, April 17
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue, Boston