Review Summary: Primal, energetic, and dynamic... just like the phenomenal voice that drives it.
The opening title track of Paper Parachute
arrives with a slow crawl, anchored by a lumbering bluesy swagger. And yet, it also plays out like a rigid march. The title of the song is chanted like a mantra, as the dynamics build and the tension edges closer and closer to its breaking point. But Paper Parachute
is an album of explosive payoffs, and this introductory piece is no exception. When Tayeb unleashes her fury over the track, the mood instantly shifts to one of manic energy and garage rock clangor. The singer’s voice turns to a piercing scream over the hard rock riffs and layers of distortion, forming a vibe quite unlike what we started with. In fact, the title track provides an amazing thesis statement of what you’ll hear in this short-but-sweet experience.
The great thing about Paper Parachute
is that it’s quite keen on focusing on the elements that really matter, most of them revolving around Ninet Tayeb herself. Her voice is one hell of a beast on the record, and not just during the loudest and most climactic moments. Her subtlety is also worth noting, as you can hear on the wonderfully melancholic and droning opening to “Child” or the sexy, breathy sway of “Subservient.” The latter is like a much less obnoxious (and more convincing) version of Lana Del Rey’s vocal shtick, and the performance eventually builds up to… uh… Israeli folk music" Yes, her roots do make it here once in a while; the same goes for some of the background string arrangements of the fast-paced hard rock jam “Elinor,” as well as much of the bonus track “She’s Lost Control.” But, for the most part, the main focus is on cranking out heavy bangers focusing on Tayeb’s incredible vocal performances.
There’s definitely something quite “indie” about the album, from back when “indie” wasn’t just a word to define a specific pop trend. By “indie,” I mean truly independent and do-it-yourself. Much like the other albums she’s released, Paper Parachute
gives off the impression that she wanted to fine-tune every aspect of the music and didn’t care about giving it a mass appeal. This especially seems to be the case when she starts experimenting more in the second half of the record; for instance, it’s fascinating that such a gorgeous symphonic ballad like “Temporary Satisfaction” could co-exist on the same album as some of the heavy rockers that preceded. But it does, and it stands as one of the true highlights on offer here because of its textured production work and emotional weight (seriously, listen to that acoustic guitar!!!). Much of the same instrumentation and songwriting quality apply to the closer (not counting the bonus track) “Ocean,” another subdued ballad with a beautiful vocal performance of understated dynamics. It’s as if the album is aging as it keeps playing, starting out bursting with youthful energy before gradually evolving into a more mature alternative/indie recording with more diverse influences. In both cases, it’s a winner.
Ninet Tayeb has been busy these days, especially with her efforts to cross over to the Western world and her increasingly common collaborations with British musician/producer Steven Wilson, but it’s refreshing to know that her solo output has such quality and passion put into it. I was introduced to her music through both Wilson and NPR’s Tiny Desk concert that she performed at, and in both instances, I was simply entranced by the effort she pours into her voice and her craft. But listening to Paper Parachute
was the first time I truly heard this in its entirety. It documents everything that makes her as in-demand and acclaimed as she is today, and I simply can’t recommend it enough.