Imagine a record that matches the leftfield edge of Beck or Radiohead with the kind of sure-footed pop hooks Justin Timberlake’s people would write a blank cheque for. A record which vividly conjures the life of an insightful outsider, set to the dark, loping rhythms of Massive Attack or Portishead. A record built around a voice that’s as sweetly expressive as it is richly soulful. Then imagine that every single sound of it, including the bass & the drums, is performed by one man on his amazingly versatile guitar. That record is Charmed & Strange.
The road towards this striking album began in Cape Town in the late 1980s, when a nine-year-old boy began sneaking to his neighbour’s house to listen to Wham! and OMD. At Yoav’s house, such “light music” was banned, on the insistence of his father, a Jewish architect who lived through World War II in his native Romania, before moving to Israel (where Yoav was born) and then relocating to South Africa with Yoav’s opera singer mother. Only classical and opera would waft through their home.
That only made the pull of modern music stronger for little Yoav. “Fr...