29-year-old Dutch singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dotan made his New York debut to a crowd of enthusiastic (not to mention insanely tall and blonde) fans at Mercury Lounge.

With galvanizing energy and an anthemic beat, Dotan and his six-piece band breathed new life into his 2014 self-produced 7 Layers—which, unlike your run-of-the-mill studio album, was recorded in Dotan’s own living room. This idea was inspired by Dotan’s worldwide “living room” tour, a series of 100 solo shows in fans’ living rooms and other intimate venues across the globe to test out the material that evolved into 7 Layers. With this sort of modest origin story, it’s no surprise that Dotan’s performance is an honest and heartfelt dialogue with his audience.

Dotan’s debut album—named for the seven layers of skin that line and protect the human body from the outside world—is a poignant deconstruction of the self. “I was a stranger in my own skin,” Dotan sings on the title track. “Seven layers grace and wearing thin. Seven layers I’ve been hiding in.” Dotan sings about a search for meaning as his band weaves a lush sonic ambience around his straightforward vocals and steady, triumphant drumbeat.

Dotan’s music is as much an exploration of the natural world as it is an analysis of the human experience. “The sound of the wind is whispering in your ear,” he sings passionately about his call to the wild. “Can you feel it coming back? Through the warmth, through the cold, keep running ’til we’re there. We’re coming home now, we’re coming home now.”

Whispered vocals, harmonies, and elongated echoes recreate a retreat into nature—the rush of the wind, the roar of the river, the pounding of the rain, the crash of the breakers against a cliff. He connects all these natural elements to human emotion. “There’s a point. There’s a limit,” he sings. “Where we break, the current finds the quickest way. So, let the river in. Burst the dams and start again.”

Dotan’s first New York show as a rousing success and I hope to see him around these parts again real soon!


Article: Heather McAdams


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