Recording artist Oren Lavie could easily appear to be a guy of the pretentious persuasion. He's a playwright (one of his plays is called The Empty Princess). He studied theatre at the London Academy. He's lived in New York and Berlin and grew up in Israel. He's a self-proclaimed musical predecessor of Tom Waits. I already don't like this guy!
Upon listening to the title track off Oren Lavie's debut album, The Opposite Side of the Sea, the first word that came to mind wasn't a good word: Smarmy. The track rises and falls with a string quartet; Lavie's voice is gruff and at first is jarring to the ear. I just didn't know how to feel about it.
But as with a movie where the two characters, although opposites, fall in love, I fell passionately in love with this album. I looked past the obvious smarm (is that a word?) and saw an album richly made and hauntingly beautiful. Plus, I am a sucker for string orchestras.
If this album weren't so musically stimulating (I can't stop listening to it), I would have thrown it out the window a long time ago.
Lesson learned: Maybe smarmy is a good thing. Thoughts?