Orit Shimoni. Lorem Ipsum.

The last time we encountered Orit Shimoni, the nomadic Canadian singer/songwriter, her endless travels had, unexpectedly, ended. Covid had stranded her in Winnipeg, hunkered down, and forced to find a semi permanent place to stay – a strange state of affairs for a musician who, literally, had been on the road for 11 years.

Stuck in Winnipeg, Shimoni released the wonderful Strange And Beautiful Things, a collection of songs she had recorded earlier in Toronto with a full band line up. She follows it up with Lorem Ipsum, a truly solo effort recorded in her flat using “a failing, noisy laptop, a cheap microphone, and, free, basic recording software.” She admits that this was a time of deep despair, not only due to the pandemic but also the extreme polarisation, ignorance, and hate she was seeing across the world. Seeking some solace in her song writing she realised she had songs already written which fitted her mood and, having recalled 11 of them, she set to recording them in one all night session. The result is this lo-fi record which, in spite of its humble origins, positively speaks to the human condition and is yet another reason to consider Shimoni as one of the most under rated songwriters and singers of our time. On some songs here, blood and tears truly flow. Smithereens is a chilling description of the aftermath of a suicide bombing and is Dylan like as it encompasses empathy and condemnation. Another venerable songwriter, Leonard Cohen, comes to mind on It’s Good That You Died When You Did, primarily due to the song’s delivery and cadences but also in the fatalism on display. Horse, a stark portrait of an act of violence inflicted on an animal is delivered in a winning  amalgamation of both Dylan and Cohen. Mention of them does point to the album being akin to mid 60s folk and there’s a perfect example of Shimoni drawing on that tradition when she dips into whimsy to unveil the real violence visited upon people on Show Me A Picture as opposed to cartoon violence. While a bomb in a Roadrunner short might just be just a kaboom moment with no fatalities, in real life it maims and kills. Meanwhile, her notion that, in real life, liars’ noses should grow, just like Pinocchio’s, is a definite winner.

Shimoni bares her soul on several of the songs. It All Comes ‘Round Again finds her recalling The Holocaust with her parents reassuring her that it is in the past, only to see that, across the world, atrocities still occur with nations  still putting kids in cages. Maybe Tomorrow is truly a lockdown song, a claustrophobic nightmare. My Flying Shoes (the title a nod to her hero, Townes Van Zandt) is perhaps, the crack which lets the light in as she sings of getting back to doing all the normal things which we all took for granted before we were all locked down. The album closes with its most powerful song, Sing Back To Me, a metaphysical plea to join together, cast aside enmities and accept that we are all cast from the same mold. Here, Shimoni approaches the visceral and spiritual appeal of Patti Smith at her most mystical. Overall, Lorem Ipsum is a cry from the heart and it deserves to be heard far and wide.

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