In 2014, early in a three-year period spent in Israel, songwriter Ben Fisher took a vacation to Japan. Sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo, he spontaneously wrote a song about the establishment of Tel Aviv – in about 15 minutes.
The story goes that the first house masters in Tel Aviv randomly picked their piece of land by plucking sea shells from the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea with numbers in it. Fisher called the song "The Shell Lottery & # 39;
Earlier that year, the Seattle-based songwriter had quietly released an album with country-tinted folk rock called & # 39; Charleston & # 39 ;. But Fisher, a self-described & # 39; big musical nerd & # 39 ;, had long wanted to write a more ambitious concept album in the US. vein of Sufjan Stevens & # 39; cult classic "Illinois" and "Michigan" records. "The Shell lottery" was the moment he had waited.
"I realized that it could serve as the beginning of something bigger, more coherent," he said.
In the course of the following year, when he lived in an apartment opposite the old city in Jerusalem, he continued to write most of the songs on his folky, sincere 17-track opus "Has the country withheld me?"
On the album, released on September 7, Fisher inhabits a number of characters, from early Israelis nervous about their new country to Palestinians who are forced to leave their homes to a settler on the assumption that he eventually leaves the West Bank is put. There are history lessons about Masada, terrorist attacks and Israeli figures such as singer Meir Ariel and astronaut Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli to enter space (he was killed in the fatal Columbia mission in 2003).
Some songs also capture the contemporary perspective of the 26-year-old Fisher on the city and country he has come to love, from his apartment about what he calls "the seam" between the Jewish West Jerusalem and the Arab East Jerusalem. Each issue has an explanatory lining that gives the listener context and, in some cases, a mini-history lesson.
"You hear gunshots from terrorist attacks, you see dead terrorists in the public park next to the walls of the old city", is the note of "Horses and Helpers", one of the songs sung from the contemporary perspective of Fisher. "You are too late to work because a car has been plowed into your light rail station, with the aim of letting people run their daily activities, you can not leave the Damascus gate of the old city after you have had coffee with friends, because there has been a stabbing attack and they are still looking for the perpetrator. "