Album Review: “Country Songs From An Immigrant” by Omer Leibovitz
Omer Leibovitz describes himself as a musician, producer, engineer based out of Brooklyn via Boston via New Jersey via Ghana via Israel. His forthcoming solo album “Country Songs From An Immigrant” is an incredible achievement in writing and musicianship catching an eclectic sound like Leibovitz background and the city he calls home.
This record was made in Studio G Brooklyn, for a list of credits see the end of the article. “Majority of this record was written this year during quarantine. The way life presented itself to me resulted in doing most of the quarantine by myself. I can’t say that the record was inspired by one specific event or subject, as a songwriter I am always writing. However this particular record was definitely written under extreme, and long isolation. Between spending a lot of time reading books, learning more about myself, returning to some lite experimentation with psychedelics and self reflection, I found that I was ready to talk more about myself as an immigrant. I spent many years assimilating, and just trying to fit in, and honestly never really fitting in. Something clicked this year and through all the self work found that I was feeling excited to let people see more of who I am and what I do musically.”
The Intro track plays into the interludes between several songs with hypnotizing sound like a cable television static acid trip. “There Will Be Fire” kicks in with a bluesy refrain with lingering fingerpicking draped over top. The washed out organ and yearning lyrics set the tone for this beautiful album. “A Better Way” has a big sound like a Springsteen tune was given a poignant and intentional dose of melancholy. The pedal steel solo really stands out on this track.
After another interesting interlude “A Second Time” sweeps in with a smooth production a la The War On Drugs and with haunting vocals takes flight into the chorus. With desolate imagery and amazing production, this song is a powerful piece to this fantastic piece of art. “The interludes as well, tie into the answer above. It would take a lot of words to talk of the multiple layers of meaning, but the basics are that each interlude relates to the song it’s attached to. If you listen closely, some of them are very literal as samples of words buried in the interludes reveal to the listener what the song is about to me, and some reveal just a mood. The overarching meaning of the interludes speaks to the isolation, the source material that I used to make these pieces was my AM radio, of course then processed through modular synths and such. so as you are listening there is sort of a weird feeling as if I am scrawling the dial through the AM frequencies, looking for a station, but it’s underwater, it’s a little erratic, almost as if the entire album is happening only in my head. Which is how it felt for a long year. It all felt like an inner monologue or being stuck on an island by yourself.”
“A Real Life Halo” begins with incredible fingerpicking and with an exquisite entanglement of synth and great songwriting. The story really captures the listener here and describes the hope we are all seeking in friendship. “Bandits” is another great tune with a simple start and drum kick that keeps adding layers to the chorus. It feels like a song that would be perfect around a campfire. “Only For You” laments love lost with a shimmering guitar throughout and a steady groove that recalls the great band Morphine.
When asked to reflect on the recording Leibovitz said, “This record means everything to me. It’s the most honest I have ever been on record, and that frightened me! My hope is that it can be a companion to someone in their hard times or lonely times, or if they feel like no one cares. the way music has been for me. A big shout out has to go to my good friend Jeff Berner who produced this record at Studio G in Brooklyn. I would have been lost, and making a million versions of demos and trashing most of these songs if it was not for Jeff asking me to send it to him, and proactively getting a working plan while steering the whole thing to it’s completion.”
“Find Me Love” is perhaps the most country sounding track on this stellar album. It sounds like it came right out of the “Buster Scruggs” soundtrack from the Coen Brothers. Seeking hope and love in a world gone wrong with a rollicking melody and sweeping pedal steel and a perfect guitar solo. The record ends with “In One Eye Trouble” and just like the entire piece the song builds slowly into a masterful sound that completes this eclectic puzzle.
It’s easy to see the skills and maturity in the recording Leibovitz has picked up over many years of playing with his band Courtesy Tier and his solo projects. However, the grace in wearing your heart on your sleeve as he has done with the lyrics and special care to detail is powerfully moving. This album is looking for a label to release on currently and will hopefully be coming out soon. The world needs to hear this and once other producers do it should have no problem finding a home. Asked about the effects of the pandemic Leibovitz stated “Of course the lack of live performance and work is difficult for all musicians. One silver lining I have noticed is that a lot of great and talented musicians I know have had the time to finish their projects and write new ones. We are getting a lot of great material from talented people who otherwise are stifled by the work culture, too busy surviving to give us the gift of their art.”
We sure are getting a lot of great music and this writer feels extremely lucky to get a sneak peek at this masterpiece from one of those talented people we are lucky to have in the recording world.