Sunday, November 27, 2016

Orit Shimoni – Soft Like Snow

Soft Like Snow
MW Music

One of my favorite times and ways to listen to music is late at night, in a quiet dark room, via headphones. And it is quiet, sad, poetic, thought-provoking songs that I particularly like to listen to late at night, in a quiet dark room, via headphones. Some of Leonard Cohen’s albums – like Songs of Leonard Cohen or Songs from a Room – are filled with those kinds of songs. So is Soft Like Snow, the new 10-song collection by Orit Shimoni, the artist once known as Little Birdie.

Soft Like Snow is an album that speaks of love, loss of love, memory and the futility of war. One of the best songs, “Playing Chelsea Hotel,” is a direct nod to Leonard Cohen, which was made ever more poignant because I listened to the album for the first time on the same day I learned that Leonard had died.

“Playing Chelsea Hotel” describes a brief encounter with a busking accordion player singing Leonard’s “Chelsea Hotel,” a fleeting moment of harmony when she added her voice to his, and her lingering thoughts about the busker after she’d moved on.

Another highlight is the title song, “Soft Like Snow,” which conjures wintertime images as the narrator describes searching for comfort as she contemplates carrying on after the end of an affair of the heart.

While Orit wrote and plays most of the songs on guitar, she is at the piano – playing and singing quietly but intensely – for some of the album’s most interesting songs. Among them is “Room to Myself,” set in a hotel room late at night, the television on but without sound, as she again contemplates an ended relationship and a life spent largely moving from place to place.

Another of the piano songs is “Fool,” the most thought-provoking song on Soft Like Snow. In “Fool,” Orit addresses a soldier enjoying a day at the beach, a day on which the soldier is able to escape conflict. But while the soldier is not physically at the front, she is not able to escape the thoughts of an innocent child, or innocent children, caught up in the conflict. Orit spent much of her life in Israel – a country that has known much conflict and where there is compulsory military service – and while I don’t know if Orit served in the Israeli army before moving to Canada as a young woman, I can’t help but think that she, herself, is the soldier being addressed in the song.

Find me on Twitter.

And on Facebook.

--Mike Regenstreif

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

Leonard Cohen died at his home in Los Angeles on November 7 at age 82 and was laid to rest with a traditional Jewish funeral in Montreal on November 10. 

After learning of his death I wrote an appreciation of Leonard for my column in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin that drew on some of my earlier articles and reviews. The column is available at this link.

Find me on Twitter.

And on Facebook.

--Mike Regenstreif

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Canadian Spaces – CKCU – Saturday November 26, 2016

CKCU can be heard at 93.1 FM in Ottawa and on the web.

Canadian Spaces on CKCU in Ottawa is Canada’s longest-running folk music radio program. It is heard Saturday mornings from 10:00 am until noon (Eastern time).

It was hosted for more than 33 years by the late Chopper McKinnon and is now hosted by Chris White and a rotating cast of co-hosts.

This week’s show was co-hosted by Mike Regenstreif and Chris White.

Guests: The Homestead Band; Geraldine Hollett of The Once.

Fraser/Daley- Young Handsome David
Fifty Miles of Elbow Room (Alec Fraser, Mike Daley)

Amanda Lynn Stubley- Rocky Mountain Road
Gem (Amanda Lynn Stubley)

Jenny Whiteley- Stealin’, Stealin’

Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur- Just a Little While to Stay Here
Penny’s Farm (Kingswood)

Chaim Tannenbaum- Moonshiner
Chaim Tannenbaum (StorySound)

Dave Van Ronk- Urge for Going
…and the tin pan bended, and the story ended (Smithsonian Folkways)

Lynn Miles- Just Let It Snow
Winter (Lynn Miles)

Jesse Winchester- Snow
Jesse Winchester (Stony Plain)

William Bell- All of Your Stories
This is Where I Live (Stax)

Tex König- Sisters of Mercy
Königsblende (Music Cellar)

Orit Shimoni- Playing Chelsea Hotel
Soft Like Snow (MW Music)

Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
You Want It Darker (Columbia)

The Homestead Band- Into Loving You
Live in the studio

The Homestead Band- Devil’s Got a Gun
Live in the studio

The Homestead Band- Early Morning Rain
Live in the studio

Corin Raymond- Hard on Things
Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams (Local Rascal)

The Bombadils- The Fountain
New Shoes (Borealis)

The Once- Gonna Get Good
We Win Some We Lose (The Once)

The show is now available for online listening.

I’ll be co-hosting Canadian Spaces again on January 28.

Find me on Twitter. @MikeRegenstreif

--Mike Regenstreif