Combining classical and contemporary music, Daniel Sarver’s elegant new album demonstrates the impressive scope of his absorbing songwriting.
Previously described as “one of Israel’s most promising international talents”, Daniel Sarver’s emphatic collaborations and compositional nous has seen the musician garner some merited widespread acclaim. Assertive and audacious in his blending of genres, the songwriter has adopted a compelling formula, adhering to the sophisticated traditions of classical music, while also embracing the innovation of modern pop. Eager to live up to such glowing praise, the composer’s dazzling new album, ‘Amazed’, sees him collaborate with a wealth of talent, as his dynamic production and progressive composition capture the very best of his versatile traits.
Gleaming with the shimmering mystique of an epic sci-fi, the cinematic properties of ‘Amazed’ resemble the refinement and grandiosity of a prodigious soundtrack. From the opening ‘Maze (intro)’, Sarver immediately introduces us to his luxurious palette, with the mellow piano keys and elevating strings combining to generate a dense atmosphere consumed by intrigue. Continuing with the ethereal sounds of the opener, the following ‘Curiosity’ holds just as much appeal, where the spiralling piano, hypnotic harmonies, and cries of “we could travel back in time”, all induce a sense of magnetism. As well as opening the project in captivating fashion, this intrigue precipitates the mesmeric properties of the album, which resurface later on in the tracklist on cuts such as ‘Fairytale’, ‘Magic box’, and ‘Walking on stars’. While it’s the scintillating synths with give ‘Fairytale’ its otherworldly characteristics, ‘Magic Box’ relies on the transcendent nature of the xylophone, as well as the elegant exchange of harmonies between guest vocalists Tay Lerner and Noa Shabon.
Visceral and climactic, Sarver’s absorbing new album features some moving composition, whose intricate arrangements help amplify the emotion of each track. Exploring feelings of longing and reminiscence on ‘Miss the times’, the Israeli’s ardent piano chords emanate an overwhelming sense of pain, laying the foundations for Charlie Cooper’s bold, melodramatic chorus, which sees him sing about a diminished sense of pride. While his presence can be felt at the forefront of tracks such as ‘Giant wheel’ – by virtue of the heartrending strings – others rely on Sarver’s nuanced details within the instrumentation. Such is the case on ‘Beautiful nightmare’, where the open mix at the beginning of the track evolves into a passage of militant drumming, providing the backdrop for Olya Gram’s intensifying emotions, as she can be heard singing about the burdens of shame and anguish. Employing a range of techniques, Sarver’s percussion is the foundation of his versatility, with his minimalist approach on tracks such as ‘Forgive me’ able to dictate an intimate, moody ambience. Comparably, the percussion finds itself at the core of tracks such as ‘Between’, where the crashing toms gather momentum and instigate one of the album’s most hard-hitting choruses.
A carefully curated project, each of the artists featured on ‘Amazed’ become fully immersed in their respective instrumental, in turn accentuating the emotion which emerges from Sarver’s rousing songwriting. Demonstrating great chemistry across the project, it is evident that each artist undertook the challenge whilst on the same page as the Israeli phenomenon. Knowing exactly which vocals will enhance the mix of a song, Sarver is able to extract the very best out of his elaborate production. Tim Moyo’s presence on ‘Fairytale’ provides a great example of this, with his lyric tenor vocals adding an extra layer of warmth to the nostalgic synth-pop, performed with such grace that it even draws parallels with some of the recent work by The Weeknd. Likewise, Eli Blue’s powerful, yet wearied vocals capture the adversity of ‘Hurricane’, where the grainy mix and distorted guitars compliment his heavy melodies, symbolising the imminent presence of a harsh and ominous looking storm.
Closing the album having come full circle with the tender piano keys of ‘Maze’, Sarver and Sean K. ensure ‘Amazed’ culminates on the same sentimental, yet mystical note it started out with. Delivering a combination of classical, progressive, and recognised production styles, Sarver’s songwriting is given the scope to elicit an extensive range of emotions and feelings. Whether enhanced by Mira Semenduyev’s enchanting vocals on ‘Giant wheel’, or Matt Sky’s expressive performance on ‘Between’, Sarver’s gifted songwriting remains the centrepiece of this divine record. A diversely produced album with abounding quality, ‘Amazed’ demonstrates exactly why Daniel Sarver is one of Israel’s most promising musical talents.