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Noa


Country of origin:

Israel

Type of music generally:

Pop, rock, world music and a hint of folk

Status:

Most recent release, Love Medicine (2014)

See also:

An official Noa site

Wikipedia's page for Noa

Comparisons:

If she sounds like anyone, it would be a cross between Julia Fordham and Basia...sort of. (vickie@enteract.com)

Covers/own material:

Most of Noa's material is written by herself and Gil Dor

General comments:

She grew up New York City, but returned to Israel where she was born and now lives. In a word, she is wonderful. And her guitar player/accompanist/arranger/co-writer/tour partner, Gil Dor, is one of the hands-down best instrumentalists I've ever watched. He is brilliant. They have been touring around together for a while. They have several albums of which I own—Achinoam Nini Gil Dor (Achinoam Nini is her real name) and Noa. The former is largely songs by the Israeli poet Leah Goldberg put to music. It is entirely in Hebrew. The song "Me (Ani, Kazot Anochi)" is probably my favorite Noa song today, but that could change. This is actually a poem by Israeli poet Rachel. The latter, Noa, is her American breakthrough album, featuring Hebrew and English songs. She plays percussion/drums throughout and live as well. She has a definite Sephardi influence (her roots may be Yemen or Morocco, I'm not sure), although it is rather subtle. Again, what stands out for me in their music (and it really is a joint effort—but putting Noa's picture on the front probably is a good marketing strategy) is the strength of Gil's arrangements and accompaniments and their collective song-writing. She has a pretty good voice but Kate Bush or k d lang she ain't (hey, who is?). If you are into Israeli/Jewish music you should particularly seek this out, though I think there are plenty of ectophiles who can attest to their universal appeal. FANTASTIC live show. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

I have two albums directly from Israel and the 3rd is her first (I believe) domestic release, released on Geffen. The songs are mostly quiet ballads, pretty but not extraordinary. She sings in English on most of the songs, which is a jolt just because I got very used to the other albums, where she sings in Hebrew.
     She does have a very beautiful voice, and the songs are good, but maybe I'm hearing them as too smooth/slick/safe. I don't know how to describe them because I don't listen to this kind of music generally. (That's not a knock at the music at *all*, it's just a genre that I haven't explored very deeply).
     Her voice is deep and slightly husky, even when she sings in her higher registers. There's nothing about it which makes it overly distinctive, but I honestly don't mean that in a bad way. She does have a gorgeous operatic voice, but very rarely uses it, which is a shame.
     I feel like I'm digging myself a hole, even though I like Noa :-). (vickie@enteract.com)

Most resident on my player, though, is Noa. I just love her voice. Her band, the arrangements, everything. (mp@moonmac.com)

Comments about live performance:

Last night I had the privilege and honor to see easily one of the best concerts I have ever seen—Noa (Achinoam Nini) and Gil Dor, an Israeli duo, played in Evanston to an awestruck, stunned, silent, speechless audience.
     This was truly a captivity that transcends rescue. Every song they played, *without* exception, was brilliant. Alone, Noa has an exceptionally strong and versatile vocal range and delivery—at moments brash, at others fragile and vulnerable, sometimes bordering on operatic, sometimes the essence of folk. And, this lady, 24-years-old, raised in the Bronx, moved to Israel at age (almost) 17 (!), is talented—did I mention that? She has a theatricality about her, a grace and easiness that compels with every note, *and* she is a fabulous percussionist. At one point she played a bongos and drums solo (no sticks, all hands—she plays her chest too at various points) that was blinding.
     And then there's Gil Dor. GILDOR. One letter for each string of his guitar. This man is, and I am not one to hyberbolize (:-), he is one of the best guitar players I have ever seen. With my trusty binoculars I ogled this giant with my body hushed in reverence. It's not just that he's a technically perfect player, but the arrangements and accompaniments for those songs were in a word breathtaking. I spoke to Gil after the show and he said he's had all types of training and experience from pop to rock to classical to folk to jazz, from bands to ensembles to sessions to studios, and so on. The classical guitar stylings were perhaps the strongest to show through...the frictionless, flawless transitioning from chord to note to cadence to phrase to everything was seamless and effortless. Less is more. Gil Dor is a graceful guitar player, an eloquent guitar accompanist, understated, humble, gentle, genuine. Like butter.
     Alright, the accolades are certainly flowing today but they are well-deserved. If you love music, and I'll bet you do, then you will love Noa and Gil. Go out of your way to see them. The CDs, somewhat hard to come by, are good, but they are mere shadows of the live performance. These two are going places, friends. Not to be missed. (c. 1995, mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

About two weeks ago Marcel, my boyfriend Ron and I went to see the Israeli singer Noa in concert in Amsterdam. This concert was in the small hall of the famous Concertgebouw (well known for its incredible acoustics, especially for classical music), which holds about 350 people. It was sold out, we were lucky that we had tickets because we only found out about it a couple of days before. I was looking forward to seeing Noa and Gil Dor again, but I was also a little bit concerned about the announcement that she would "bring her band". The hall is much more suited for an acoustic concert than for a rock-band...Alas.
     There were more instruments on stage than the two previous times we saw her, including a drumkit, and indeed, Noa is a band nowadays. A four-piece band, with Noa (Achinoam Nini) on vocals, percussion and guitar, Gil Dor on all sorts of guitars, Zohar Fresco on drums and percussion, and Yossi Fine on bass guitar.
     She opened with 'U.N.I.' ("the Universe begins with you and I"), a new song we already knew from last year's concert in the Hague, and continued with a mixture of new songs and old favourites. She only played three tracks from Noa, two from the second cd, some concert classics (like 'Conga's' and a Yemenite song where she plays her chest as a percussion instrument), and about seven new songs. At first I was not quite sure whether I was happy with the new turn she's taken. In some cases I would have preferred the duo-setting for the older songs, the addition of bass and drums made it too heavy, and too much in the rock direction for me. Also I felt that Gil didn't have much chance to prove his ability his time. Some of the new arrangements for the older songs didn't seem to work out quite well yet, while most of the new songs (on Calling) really rocked. Still, the concert was great, and each new song had something that sounded very promising. But be prepared for a change of style if you're going to see her in the near future.
     During the concert she said something like that lately she'd been asking a lot of questions, inside, and that that was reflected in the new songs. Most of them are indeed dark, sad, some even angry—"he's so compassionate, so compassionate that I could freak" ('Lama'). I can see why they didn't include the cheerful 'Traces of love'—it wouldn't fit in with the mood.
     She only once sings in Hebrew, when she cries out "Lama!" (Why!)—a moment that sends chills down my spine, both during the concert and on the cd (Calling). (1996, Marion)

Recommended first album:

Noa (1994) or, if you can get it, Le meilleur de Noa (1999). (marcel@kimwilde.com)

Recordings:


Achinoam Nini Gil Dor Live

Release info:

1991—NMC—290003-299553

Availability:

Europe, Israel

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Achinoam Nini (Noa)—vocals
Gil Dor—guitars

Produced by:

Asher Bitansky

Comments:

I put in the Nini/Dor "Live" CD and was shocked at how unfamiliar I was with it. I guess I'd always grabbed the other Nini/Dor CD and was *very* familiar with it, but had hardly listened to this one. Anyway, the live show features almost all English lyrics. Besides that, the song "Material Girl" *is* a cover of the Madonna song. It's a very strange and cool cover too. I guess I really need to get more familiar with this one :) (vickie@enteract.com)

Achinoam Nini Gil Dor

Release info:

1993—NMC—290003-300440

Availability:

Europe, Israel

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Achinoam Nini—vocals, backing vocals, classical guitar, percussion
Gil Dor—guitars, arrangements

Guest artists:

Adi Renert—piano, keyboards
Alon Nadel—bass
Eitan Itzcovich—drums
Motti Adoni—percussion
Ilan Salem—Piccolo, Flute
Zohar Fresco—Darbukka, percussion
Moti Adoni—percussion

Produced by:

Asher Bitansky

Comments:

Other artists whose musical interpretations (setting to music) of poetry I regard highly include Noa and Gil Dor on their second album (filled with Hebrew poetry from a very famous one-named Hebrew poet, Rachel). Great stuff, especially if you can understand it, but even if you can't. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

My favorite song is "Marionettes" which is a cross between Kate Bush's "Coffee Homeground"—in style—and Nina Hagen's serious opera voice :), but it's the only song like it on the album. My second favorite is "Oh My God!" which Holly Cole could have *tons* of fun with. I think most of the album is very good though. (vickie@enteract.com)


Noa

Release info:

1994—Geffen—20642-46192

Availability:

USA, Europe, Israel

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Noa—vocals, backing vocals, Darbukkah drum
Gil Dor—guitar, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Lyle Mays—piano, keyboards
Steve Bodby—bass, backing vocals
Luis Conte—percussion
Steve Ferrone—drums
Dave Samuels—additional percussion
Dan Gottlieb—cymbals
Bill Evans—soprano sax
Gil Goldstein—accordion
Pat Metheny—backing vocals
Rob Eaton—backing vocals

Produced by:

Pat Metheny

Comments:

I have to admit—the very first (and only) time I heard 'I don't know' on my clockradio very early in the morning when I was still half asleep (any more excuses?)—I thought for a few seconds "Is this Kate Bush?" :) No. I love this album, even though it's smooth and poppy and all that, she must have enjoyed making it, she cheers me up. (Marion)

This album was my first acquaintance with Noa, and she's become one of my favourites in due time. It's the most accessible album in her catalogue, but if you're into unpolished music you'd better start with one of her other albums. This one is like a perfect jewel; from the delicate strength of "I don't know", through the festive "Child of man" and the modest "Uri" to the stately "Ave Maria", this album should be able to capture your attention and have you enchanted by this Hebrew goddess. (marcel@kimwilde.com)

Bleaugh. This bland slab of MOR Radio 2 sub-Striesand, tonight-at-the-Palladium balladeering left me cringing with embarassment at its cheesiness, which is a pity as I kind of like Calling. I forced myself to listen to it all the way through twice, but am in no hurry to repeat the experience. There's too much good music out there to bother.... (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Calling

Release info:

1996—Geffen—GED 24965

Availability:

Europe

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Noa—vocals
Gil Dor—guitars, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Rupert Hine—keyboards, backing vocals

Produced by:

Rupert Hine

Comments:

The new album by Noa is excellent, too. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

I would say it is not as arresting as her last two. Calling is good tho, especially if you are into Noa. Some of the instrumentation reminds me of Tori, but vocal sound and style are very different. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

I love the new Noa album, Calling. I find the songs among some of the best compositions I've heard lately; the vocals, lyrics, rhythm section, production, everything works together great. (mundopax@ingress.com)

it's definitely more electric, heavier and more rock-oriented than the previous cds. It's a cd that's grown on me faster than I expected it would. I keep playing it, the songs are melodic and upbeat, and her voice is still incredible. One of the best cds of the moment. My favourite song after a couple of hearings is 'Manhattan—Tel Aviv' (the title track), my least favourite yet is 'Too painful', which sounds too much like an ordinary rock-ballad to me. All lyrics are in English, but most songs do have a Middle-Eastern flavour, especially in the percussion and 'strings' (courtesy of Rupert Hine). (Marion)

It took a while to get into this one, and I would say it's her 'difficult' album. A few songs like 'U.N.I.', 'Lama' and 'Mark of Cain' have an instant appeal, the latter one being one of the most moving ballads I've heard in some time, whereas 'Manhattan—Tel Aviv' and 'Space' fail to get me excited. Still, it's one of the best albums I've heard in a while. (marcel@kimwilde.com)


Achinoam Nini

Release info:

1998—NMC—20255-2

Availability:

Possible to find it in Europe

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Achinoam Nini—vocals
Gil Dor—guitars

Comments:

I was really surprised when I was browsing around in a music store and saw a new album by Noa. Actually, it's an album by Achinoam Nini, and it's all in Hebrew. The sticker on the cover said "New 1998 album for Noa, all songs in Hebrew". No mention of Gil Dor but his picture is in the booklet as well.
     I only had time for a very quick listen, so I won't give a review now, only a very rough first impression. The atmosphere seemed a bit down, serious, I felt the cheerfulness of some of her previous songs was missing. The songs seemed to range from very traditional Israeli (a duet with I think Gil Dor) to operetta (as in 'Marionette' of the second album) to jazzy to rock. Also, while everything being in Hebrew doesn't bother me at all with the first two Achinoam Nini (&Gil Dor) albums, I would have liked an English translation or summary for the song titles and lyrics, don't know why. Maybe because the songs seemed so serious. But as I said, this is only a first impression of a very quick listen—my opinion will probably change when I get to really listen to the album. (Marion)

The lack of understanding of the lyrics is more than made up for the moody, beautiful and sometimes quirky music. I especially like the cheerful Arabian music on track 9 and the intros of track 5 and 8, setting an immediate scene. Paint a picture for yourself and let the music be your guide. (marcel@kimwilde.com)


Achinoam Nini & the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Release info:

1998—NMC—20315-2

Availability:

Israel only

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Achinoam Nini—vocals
Gil Dor—guitar

Guest artists:

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Comments:

This is just what the title says: a live album featuring Noa and Gil Dor, accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The album contains 15 tracks, most are from Noa or Achinoam Nini & Gil Dor, Calling and last year's album are represented by 1 track each and there are 3 new tracks, one of which I already knew from her concerts. Sometimes it gets a bit much, with such a big orchestra, but in the end I think the result is very worthwhile, especially if you already like Noa. The closing track "Glitter and be gay" (from Candide) is hilarious, an operatic masterpiece. :-) As far as I know this cd is only available in Israel. (Marion)

Both sides of the sea

Release info:

1998—Mondo Melodia/NMC

Availability:

U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Noa/Achinoam Nini—vocals
Gil Dor—guitars

Produced by:

Asher Bitansky

Comments:

Both Sides Of The Sea has been released last year in the US. It's a collection of songs from her first two albums, nothing new. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.uni-osnabrueck.de)

Le meilleur de Noa

Release info:

1999—Polydor France—564612-2

Availability:

France

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Noa/Achinoam Nini—vocals
Gil Dor—guitars

Produced by:

Asher Bitansky, Pat Metheny, Rupert Hine

Comments:

A French compilation album which chooses tracks from all of her previous albums, which makes it a very balanced compilation. I think Polydor succeeded in presenting Noa in the best way possible. For the fans, there's the added bonus of the tracks "Vivre" and "Babel", previously released as singles in France only, and the previously unreleased new version of "I don't know" in duet with the French singer Florent Pagny, adding the "I'm in flight" verse from Noa's live concerts. The best introduction you can get. I ordered mine from www.fnac.fr and you should too. (marcel@kimwilde.com)

Further info:

CD booklets contain the address More Productions, 158 Petach-Tikva Rd. Tel Aviv 64921, Israel for more information.

There is also a (very small) announcements mailing list at Onelist, run from Israel.


Thanks to Marcel Rijs for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-06-01 00:35:51.
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