Tyran Grillo, Downbeat – 3.5 Stars
Three years after debuting with Broken Lines, Israeli-born vocalist, composer and bandleader Sivan Arbel returns with Change of Light. The title itself answers the album’s most soulful questions, shining the sun of fresh melodies, words and arrangements through the window of a maturing life. Standing firmly at the crossroads of Moroccan, Brazilian, Indian and Israeli influences, Arbel refines a genre-bending array of emotional ore in her image.
The lead-off anthem, “Change”, showcases Arbel’s songwriting abilities. Between her observational acuity and varicolored singing, listeners will find plenty to reward repeat listens, digging through the layers of colorful musicality laid down by her band. Notable shades abound, including Shai Portugaly’s azure pianism on “Homesick” and the ochre pigments of the horn section, which provides floating accompaniment, sans rhythm section, on “Solitude”.
“He Sees Her” is life-affirming, and lyrically moves through phases of light and darkness, shining a torch on the tenderest facets of the heart. Such impulses fibrillate even more noticeably on “Omri”. Dedicated to her late friend, the tune balances medium and message as if it were a spiritual act, before the album closes with “Not Over Yet”.
But at the heart of all this is “Water Song”, an Israeli folk tune that speaks as much of branches as of roots, and tells its story in the language of groove. It’s a brilliant summation of a genuinely creative spirit, hinting at Arbel’s burgeoning eco-system of musical ideas.
What starts as a change of light ends up a light of change.