Album Review: Lior, “Autumn Flow” (2005)

I must have a thing for Israeli singer-songwriters. First, I fell in love with Israeli musician, Oren Lavie, and recently I’ve found a love in Lior‘s music. Lior Attar (whom goes simply by Lior) is actually Australian (though he was born and lived in Israel until he was 10). I found out about his music when my boss introduced me to his song, “This Old Love.”

You’ve likely never heard of Lior, but that’s mostly because as an independent artist, he hasn’t achieved much overseas success. However, his debut album, Autumn Flow (released in 2005), went Gold here, was nominated for several Australian music awards, and even went on to be one of the most successful independent releases in the country. The album is made up of indie-rock and acoustic numbers, accentuated by Lior’s wonderful vocals and lyrics.

The disc opens with the aformentioned mid-tempo ballad, This Old Love. Lior is backed only by his acoustic guitar (and a few gorgeous strings during the choruses), leaving more emphasis to the sentimental lyrics (“Oh, and time moves like a train/That disappears into the night sky/Yeah, I still get a sad feeling inside/To see the red tail lights wave good bye/But we’ll grow old together, we’ll grow old together/And this love will never, this old love will never die”), and Lior’s soft vocals. The ballad’s simplicity honestly makes it such an easy song to listen to over and over again; there’s something warm and alluring about Lior’s voice and the sweet lyrics often make me smile. The track is a perfect album opener, and is a favourite of mine.

Daniel is a bit livelier- with an up-tempo beat, and a catchy chorus (“And all the while I’m looking for your half-smile/Something that will show me that you are still around”). Lior’s falsetto gets a workout here as well, and he sounds lovely during the bridges. Meanwhile, Gypsy Girl sounds similar to what you’d expect to hear on Adult Contemporary radio stations, with its accessible, radio-friendly sound and peppy beat. It’s not a bad thing, though; despite the lack of originality, the song is still a fun listen.

A monkey-wrench is thrown in with Superficial, a funky little number that sounds less like acoustic rock, and more like a jazz/neo-soul song. There’s brass, drums and a head-nodding beat, and even Lior’s vocals are deeper than they have been. The change in musical direction is a bit startling, since the first three songs of the album have all been heavily acoustic, indie-rock music, but it’s a welcome change in the end.

Bedouin Song is one of the album’s highlights. Lior’s got quite an impressive vocal range, and he experiments with it a lot in this ballad. Before I ever took note of the lyrics, I sat listening to the song, mesmerised by Lior’s beautiful delivery; his voice fluctuates over the music with such passion and sincerity, and it’s easily his best vocal delivery on the album. The tune has a sort of ethnic quality to it- perhaps lending from Lior’s ancestry- and the soothing sound of the guitar just adds to the track’s beauty.

Lior Attar 2012 (1)

The mellowness continues throughout the rest of the album. Title track, Autumn Flow, features a bit of upbeat strumming, the slow-paced melody cause the song to fall easily into “background music” territory. Sitting With A Stranger is another mid-tempo number that’s a bit forgettable overall, despite the pretty melody and Lior’s gorgeous singing. There’s a guitar solo during a bridge that’s probably the hardest this album ever rocks, but the strings in the background quickly reminds the listener that this is still mainly an acoustic rock album. The Art of Cruelty has another pretty melody, even if I usually forget the tune immediately after listening. As much as I love acoustic/indie-rock albums, the result is always similar: eventually, the sameness of the music starts to bore me and the songs all seem to blend together.

Stuck In A War changes things up again, with a guitar riff that sounds like something from the 90’s rock era. Again, it’s a strange change of pace, but another welcome one; the harder rock sound is great. On the surface, Building Ships is an understated ballad, where the real focus lies in its lyrics. The lyrics tell the story perfectly (“I fear I had a love and now it’s gone/To find new shelter/And I’m building ships to carry me home/Back to where I sailed from/Back to the places I hurt”), but when the instrumentation picks up during the bridge with loud drumming, and the music crescendos, the track becomes even more exciting.

The album ends with Grey Ocean, a stunning mid-tempo ballad. Lior’s vocals stand out amongst the simple instrumentation composed of guitar and humming. The melody and evasive lyrics (“Ooh, there’s a grey ocean/Ooh, it’s calling me in/I’m getting taken under/Don’t know these emotions/Don’t think I ever have/So helplessly caught in your tide ”) set the mood perfectly, and the song plays out just as its title suggests it would- like being lost at sea on a beautiful, elusive, grey ocean.

I really love Lior’s debut album, Autumn Love. There are many stand out tracks (if nothing else, at least download “This Old Love”- it really is a fantastic little song), and even the numbers that blend together are still lovely. It’s a shame that Lior’s music hasn’t really made much of an impact overseas, but I will vouch for him and this album, and promise that you’ll enjoy it.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track List
1. This Old Love
2. Daniel
3. Gypsy Girl
4. Superficial
5. Autumn Flow
6. Bedouin Song
7. Sitting With a Stranger
8. Art of Cruelty
9. Blessed
10. Stuck in a War
11. Building Ships
12. Grey Ocean

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