by Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail

According to Israeli guitarist Rotem Sivan, Antidote, his fourth outing, was a product of the shock and heartbreak he felt with the ending of a 7-year relationship. Throughout this new body of work, mostly composed of original compositions, the music became a genuine vehicle for him to express inner emotions.

After his debut as a leader in 2013, the trio has suffered some alterations in its lineup, stabilizing since 2015 with bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and drummer Colin Stranahan.

Adopting the contours of a sultry dance, “Shahar” evinces a warming subtlety in every chord and string bending, captivating unreservedly through a clear emotional fluidity. The trio, living in perfect consonance with the music, adheres easily to any idea that might come up.

Delivered in a 5/4 time signature, the short yet self-assured title track is one of the most exhilarating pieces on the record, unveiling folk Israeli influences on the contemplative intro, where Milo assumes great part of the responsibility, whether through the melting arco brushstrokes, which accompanies the guitar melody, or whenever he plucks the strings with striking poignancy. Sectional rock inflections opportunely break the chain, bringing novelty and liberating the soul. On this spot, Sivan’s beautiful distorted chords are key.

Another immediately palpable little piece is the introspective “Rustic Heart”, in which Sivan, playing alone, speaks more than on any other tune delivered in trio.

Gilded with polished Jimi Hendrix-like segments, in the same line of “Foxy Lady”, “Reconstruction” also offers hints of “My Favorite Things” and folk connotations scattered throughout Sivan’s solo, which thrived with ambition and straightforwardness.

The two non-originals chosen to be on the album have a very distinct nature and were subjected to discrepant sonic treatments. While the sweet melody of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”, a commercial hit from 1997, was declared conjointly by Milo and Sivan on top of textures molded by gracious fingerpicked guitar work and attentive drumming, the classic “Over the Rainbow” is dressed up with soul jazz and R&B outfits, emanating feel-good vibes through a warm combination of Gracie Terzian’s voice and Sivan’s smart comping.

Sun Song” and “For Emotional Use Only” were both recuperated from previous records. Particularly interesting, the latter is a conciliatory reflection inundated by the creative drumming of Stranahan, immensely rich in elegant snare rataplans, tom-tom entanglements, and hi-hat stamps. Gulpy wha-wha guitar chops anticipate the final rock section.

In a well-shaken cocktail of styles and influences, Antidote feels remarkably unified and denotes a tasty freshness.

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Antidote ► 07 – Rustic Heart ► 10 – For Emotional Use Only

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