For an unknown artist, the odds of making it big are slim to none, so there’s something to be said for going on a whim. Israeli singer-songwriter Noa Babayof found this out last year when she stumbled onto an anonymous musician’s profile while surfing MySpace. She sent in some of her music, only to learn later that she had reached producer and guitarist Greg Weeks of the folk band Espers. Weeks invited Babayof to his home studio in Philadelphia to record her debut album, From A Window To A Wall—recently released on the Tel Aviv label Anova Music, and set to drop in the U.S. this spring on Language Of Stone/Drag City.
“I arrived in Philadelphia with my guitars and songs, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Babayof recalls. In time, she began to channel her musical influences, evoking the melancholia and austerity of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and The Beatles. A native of Beer Sheva, Israel, the 25-year-old had spent her childhood investigating her father’s record collection, and was invigorated—yet frustrated—by her ’60s folk heroes: “When I was 17, my father bought me a copy of the Woodstock movie,” she says. “I immediately began crying just because it’s so unfair for him to let me fall in love with a period of time that won’t come back again.”
Aptly reflecting this sadness, Babayof’s voice stands out with tones that are soft, meandering, and beseeching. Her music isn’t conventional folk—instead, it taps into a new-age element that drips with spirituality, lulling vibes and an often heart-piercing surge of emotion. “One Song” showcases her range and the lazy ease she uses to wrap her voice around her every syllable, while “Marching Band” is the most haunting number, foreboding in its careful pacing and smoky delivery.
“I never thought I’d have a side panel of my own,” Babayof says, humbly dismissing the accolades her CD has received at home in Israel. But there’s no need to be modest, Noa—once audiences here in the U.S. catch you on tour this summer, the recognition will be more than well-deserved.