Guitarist Yair Yona (Tal Argov)
Guitarist Yair Yona (Tal Argov)

Given that many of the seeds of American folk music traveled across the Atlantic Ocean with the country’s early European immigrants, it is not entirely out of the question then that some of the techniques and sounds that evolved over the past couple of centuries should eventually double back. On Remember, an album originally released in 2009 by guitarist Yair Yona, American folk music has traveled through the Straits of Gibraltar and found its way to Israel.

Reissued last year, Remember boasts 10 masterful (and musically witty) fingerstyle guitar melodies embodied with the spirit of American and British masters of the genre and, of course, Yona’s own wonderful creativity. The tracks consist largely of fingerstyle acoustic guitar, with a variety of other instruments and different styles of music joining in on some of the songs.

“Russian Dance”

On the track “Russian Dance,” for example, Yona conjures up the sound of a Russian folk dance. The instruments—12-string guitar, banjo, accordion, and mandolin (sounding like a balalaika)—blend perfectly here, with the banjo carrying much of the tune. Through the changes in tempo and intensity, it is not difficult to imagine the dance steps that would accompany the song.

“Floodgate Opens to Allow a Ship to Come Through (As It Carries the Passenger Fahey On It)”

“Floodgate Opens to Allow a Ship to Come Through” pays homage to late guitarist John Fahey, and is another song in which Yona’s talent for sonic imagery displays itself. Electric guitar builds the crescendo behind six-string acoustic guitar, signifying the floodgate opening and the passage of a large ship through it. As the melody winds down, the heavy gate closes and the ship continues on its path downriver.

Remember is by far one of the most original and enjoyable albums that I have discovered this summer. Listen to it for just a few minutes, and you will find yourself unconsciously tapping your feet and swaying your head in time to the rhythm of its pleasingly twangy melodies. Be sure to check it out, as well as Yona’s site, which contains samples of his forthcoming album due out later this year.

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