Tamar Haviv is no stranger to sadness and suffering. In a recent video for the title track to her new EP, The Come Together Project, she pays tribute to her father, Barry, whom she lost to COVID-19 as her team compiled joyous clips of fans singing her uplifting lyrics. Through this song – and the EP she’ll release on October 16, premiering exclusively on Audiofemme – she’s determined to offer some form of support to her listeners; the video’s release also tied in to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, and was supported by The Etheridge Foundation, an organization set up by musician Melissa Etheridge to research the causes and effects of opioid addiction.
“We wanted to get attention as much as we could to remind people that they’re not alone and to support mental wellness as much as possible within this hard situation,” Haviv explains. “I feel really lucky to be in connection with [the Etheridge Foundation] and to have them really give me the push to get the single out in a bigger way than I would have been able to on my own.”
New Jersey born and bred, Haviv studied at the well-regarded Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in the UK. The Come Together Project features an array of seven tracks all expressing a theme of unwavering positivity. “I wanted to do something that would really, physically show that we’re not alone,” she tells Audiofemme. “I had been working on these songs for the last year… I’m a super melancholic person that lives off of Leonard Cohen songs, but I got into a happy song place for a little while.”
During a time when optimism is perhaps in short supply, the sunny sounds and sentiments of The Come Together Project serve as a reminder that things can get better. “The best is yet to come/Like the first kiss you have with someone/The sweetness has only begun,” she sings on EP opener “The Best.” “I wanna live brighter and brighter,” she promises on the bridge, reprising the chorus over triumphant handclaps and shouts. As well as literally applying to the rest of the EP, Haviv is telling us that the negativity we feel is a temporary state and to remember that we aren’t done for.
Following on from this is the happy-go-lucky track “La La La’s” a tender, to-the-point song that captures that indescribable, almost nonsensical feeling of happiness that love in all its forms brings. As Haviv sings, it’s possible to hear the unmistakable smile in her vocal inflection.
“Come Together” begins with a whimsical whistle and a fast-paced guitar riff, as Haviv sings “I gotta remember/Things can change like the weather/It’s a big world, so we gotta stick together.” This statement not only supports her listeners but herself as well; for Haviv, making and sharing music is a symbiotic process. “When I was making the decision on whether to release these songs in this tense, abrasive nightmare situation, I was listening to the songs and experiencing some joy, so I was like ‘that’s the answer then,’” she recalls. “If I can release them into the world, it can give some people happiness and that’s great. I’m not in denial about anything that’s happening, but at the same time, there’s something to be said about moving to a place of joy and staying there for at least two minutes.”
On “Smile,” Haviv incorporates straightforward and clear lyrics you can’t help but sing along. As Haviv herself points out, “one of my favorite things to do is to actually sing incredibly badly, intentionally! I just think it’s really fun. We have to be so measured all the time to function and I think it’s important to just let ourselves go in every way, with language and sounds that we make.”
After the spontaneous whimsy of the first few tracks, Haviv dials it down with “Wild World.” She urges listeners to tap into their exploratory selves and not allow themselves to be limited, either physically and mentally. Like a helpful nudge out of the door, Haviv sings with the lyrics “If things get tough/It happens to the best of us/But you’ll get through and I’ve got you, I’ve got you/This world is yours, yours, yours.” Haviv is quick to mention, though, that we don’t actually have to leave our homes to experience all the world has to offer – especially given the pandemic. “I listen to Marc Maron a lot and he’s lovely and he says that we should just do whatever we can as long as it’s not hurting yourself or anyone else to survive right now,” she says. “I’m getting a masters in TV writing. I’ve been listening to podcasts, bingeing TV, reading books and having connections with people and getting fresh air safely.”
“Hero,” returns to Haviv’s twee-inspired sound, complete with adorkable lyrical phrases like superest, duperest to luckiest, duckiest. Starting the track with a lighthearted ukulele, Haviv sings an ode to a friend who brings out the best in herself. It’s an anthem for the power of friendship and the strength that a support system can provide. “I think about the question ‘Can we save one another?’ a lot in general and it’s come up a lot more in this situation, but just being there and showing up is everything,” Haviv says. “I have been so low before, and being vulnerable and real about that is so important. I’m not alone and I also need to be reminded of it.”
The grand finale of The Come Together Project is the poetic “Yours & Mine.” Featuring the vocal talent of musician Dan Bern, heartwarming lyrics create a picturesque, sepia-filtered, scene. Her favourite track on the EP, it’s a love story between two people that also captures the bittersweet reality of life’s brevity, made more precious when shared with someone else.
The power in these songs is their accessibility; clear, concise lyrics and charming melodies allow her music to occupy the same space as a friend cheerily pulling open the curtains in your darkened bedroom. Haviv possesses an uncanny ability to enjoy every ounce of what she does, and The Come Together Project reminds us that though these are uncertain times, it is not certain that they will always be like this. At every turn, Haviv encourages us to find joy in the little things. With winter and the continued pandemic looming, Haviv unwaveringly claps her hands and points out the positives, providing a sonically perfect pick me up.
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