Charmed and Strange, the debut from one-man band Yoav, is a simple album with a big sound. Like Tori Amos, with whom he recently toured, Yoav wrings maximum sound out of the simplest of instruments. Though Charmed and Strange seems to be steeped in more synthesizers than an episode of Miami Vice, the entire album was recorded with an acoustic guitar -- the guitar's body was even used to create the drum sounds (though there are a few suspicious cymbals crashes scattered throughout the album). It makes the album a technical marvel that at times is genuinely inspired.
The shortcoming with Charmed and Strange, as with a lot of albums by talented instrumentalists, is that the lyrics are not on par with the backing music: Yoav's lyrics and delivery are hardly memorable. The notable exception is his cover of the Pixies’ chestnut “Where Is My Mind?” Yoav’s guitar gymnastics nicely complement the Black Francis’s freak-out lyrics. The slowed-down, spare arrangement offers a new perspective on a song, making it easily the most compelling on the album.
The difference is that in the case of "Where Is My Mind?" Yoav has better lyrical material. If he develops his own songwriting skills or finds the right collaborator, he might create an entire album that vaults this high point. Charmed and Strange, however, is a collection of interesting guitar playing with a few lyrics thrown in for pop legitimacy.