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Omri presence by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook

Omri Levy
Omri Levy

If the thought of Israeli music leaves you with images of transsexual divas and cheesy middle Eastern grooves, then you've never really come across the great scene that Israel has been developing over recent years.

Israel's music scene has been positively moving in a different direction from how it used to be, with musicians combatting the stereotypical images created by music from the region.

So it's no surprise to discover that Israel features some great singer-songwriters. If you're a fan of American Gary Jules, British James Blunt or Canadian Daniel Powter, then you'll love Omri Levy.

Best described as folk rock meets avant-garde, he's been making music for over a decade, and in the late 90s spent a couple of years in London. His latest album, Swim, was a real DIY effort recorded at home, and it works in his favour as it has a real live feel to it, as opposed to sounding heavily over-produced. Tracks such as Black Dress are laid-back, thoughtful epics with a kind of rawness to them, while Six Days would make even Morrissey cry with its chilling vocals and expressive melody. Much of the music has a kind of rawness to it, and is reminiscent of Richard Ashcroft (ex-Verve frontman) in parts.

Omri was born on April Fool's Day (April 1) in 1976, and spends much of his time playing shows in Israel. He's rather generous with his music too both Swim and his previous album Safe Inside can be downloaded in full for free from his website, with no strings attached though if you buy the album on CD, it will come with a special live bonus CD of him in concert.

Omri still has a love affair with all things English, having covered Billy Bragg's A New England (which of course was also covered by Kirsty Macoll).

With two albums under his belt, plus a decade's worth of recording and material, Omri has served a long apprenticeship he now deserves recognition not just in Israel but also outside it.

By providing a great website where potential fans can download his music, he's doing everything he can. Now it's down to the public to check him out for themselves. Give Omri five minutes and you'll be convinced why he's a major talent.

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