Both Sides of the Sea

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Released in the United States as they are here -- on one album -- the songs on Both Sides of the Sea are collected from two Israeli albums: Achinoam Nini (1997) and Achinoam Nini Gil Dor (1993). Noa is Israeli-born but American-raised. Her music is an interesting mixture of her two heritages. She sings in Hebrew (with a smattering of English), and the occasional Middle Eastern instrument shows up, notably on the song "Morning," which sounds almost like Yosefa or Ofra Haza. For the most part, however, she employs guitar, strings, bass, percussion, and maybe an accordion or flute. It's not a rock & roll ensemble, but more like the combo used by a pop singer like Barbra Streisand who was never more than slightly influenced by rock. The numbers are a real mix. "Pines" is a wistful song of longing born out of being from "both sides of the sea," and when Noa sings the English refrain it sounds like country & western. "Me" is a soaring, yet soft number that sounds a little bit cabaret and a whole lot Broadway. "Terminal" sounds like Poe, but it's the only track even remotely produced in such a way. One might not expect this range of styles to come together as anything coherent, but surprisingly, it does. United by Noa's clear, classy voice, competent production, and a touch of melancholy, Both Sides of the Sea has something to offer many constituencies.

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