I first met Adriel in 2015 when he hosted a Sofar Sounds-esque living room show for Sean Carey (Bon Iver's drummer and S. Carey as a solo act) in Boston. I ended up interviewing Carey for Vice in Adriel's bedroom, and Adriel and I would later become friends and even play music together on his porch.
Around that time, while studying at Harvard Divinity School, Adriel was undertaking a self-motivated challenge to write a new song every day. It yielded a robust catalog of the kind of music he's attracted to — “warm, bumpy, indie rock,” in his words, reminiscent of S. Carey in many ways.
Adriel is a kind soul who shares readily. After meeting producer/drummer Dave Brophy at a Passover Seder, he shared with him all of his music — some secular and some rooted in the Jewish tradition. What caught Brophy's ear was the latter. “I was totally blown away,” he said. “I’m not Jewish, and I don’t understand the words here, but these songs have soul. You’ve got to make a Jewish world-music album.”
A week before Adriel moved to Jerusalem, where he's currently based, the two of them gathered in Brophy's studio with a bassist, a steel drum player from Trinidad and Tobago, and a Brazilian percussionist. They made that album (to be released soon), and we're excited to premiere its first single, "Modeh Ani," alongside its beautiful lyric video.
"Modeh Ani," which means "I give thanks" in Hebrew, is calm and celebratory — words that describe both Adriel and the music that first brought us together in his living room. It’s music that mimics the way we behave in living rooms, at once intimate and welcoming. And Adriel's study of the Torah infuses it with spiritual gravitas. "There's an understanding in the Torah that sleep takes our soul into 1/60th of death," Adriel told me, "and so we want to start the morning with a particularly effusive expression of gratitude for being alive."
Start your next morning with "Modeh Ani." In a damaged world in a trying moment, expressing simple gratitude for life may feel insignificant, or even unwarranted, but don't discount the profound effects of setting the tone. We are here, we have the capacity to be better, and that is worthy of thanks.
Interested in sharing and discovering life-affirming music? Check out Grey Matter, a community platform where artists and listeners discover one another.