Alisha Ahmed 30/07/2008

Rating: 4/5

Nearly geeky behind his glasses, but definitely charming, the Israeli-born, South-Africa-based (but technically Camden-dwelling) eclectic musician that is Yoav has raised his profile with a sudden bout of prolific touring. So it was just a matter of time for us to stumble upon his art.

This soireƩ in London Soho's Two Floors proved to be a very intimate set, but long enough to make me understand the reasons for the big label backing he has earned, such as Island in the UK and Verve in the US. Thirty seconds into the show and I could already tell that, stylistically, here we have a new eclectic male version of Imogen Heap. But strangely enough, for a live performance by Yoav, that is beside the point. Because, for every song he plays, the first two minutes are taken up by the creation of all the different sound layers he produces from scratch just with his own voice and acoustic guitar. Eclecticism is not necessarily enough to make good music, but the thing here is that Yuav is actually making an effort to stand out. I have nothing but respect for the self-sufficiency he has, which should prove to anyone who is whining about things being too complicated in the music business that thankfully, everything is still up to how much you care about finding your own personal style and developing it, just as Yoav is doing.

When you see this guy playing you can't help but feel impressed physically witnessing how many more things, beside the obvious ones, you can actually do with just a guitar. It made me realise just how much we underestimate guitars by believing they're just six strings to be pulled. The setlist tonight mainly features songs from his debut album, 'Charmed and Strange' released earlier this year, but just as impressive was the inclusion of his version of 'Where is My Mind', originally by The Pixies. And by the time he adapted it to his own inimitable one-instrument-only-style, it became more of a reinvention than just a cover, proving also how much he masters his very own technique, and that he also knows how to expand it and apply it, enough to make it a conceptual approach to songs altogether.

It's just too bad that the full power of this artist can only faithfully be acknowledged and unleashed live, because, no matter what listening to a tune does, it won't do him justice unless you are physically present to see the artistic process where he builds and puts together every single music layer.