For the first part of this review click here. Over there I briefly touch on why I think this is a breakthrough album for Jewish Music. Let me just remind people that this is my O-P-I-N-I-O-N. I don’t feel any need to force anyone to agree with me. You are more then welcome to write your own review and have your own opinion. I am writing this because I love Jewish music and I love to talk about it. I don’t want anyone to buy something or not buy something because of my reviews. My reviews are meant to go along with the CD you have already purchased.
The CD booklet.
This is one of the nicest and most complete CD Booklets in as long as I can remember. It doesn’t just tell you who made the music, it tells you how the music came to be. It also offers a great glimpse into the relationship between the composer (Yossi Green) and the singers. Featured on each two page spread are the lyrics, the translation, the inspiration for the song, the credits and a personal letter to the singer(s) from Yossi. (Also featured in the booklet is a very classy “Hatzlacha Raba” to many new artists working on albums. Benny Friedman, Dovid Stein, Josh Rubenstein, Sruli Werdyger, Shloimi Toisig and Yumi Lowy.) The booklet is 40 pages of pure Jewish music goodness.
Song # 1: Layehudim.
The Layehudim intro is not that original. It’s classic Earth, Wind and Fire, not that I’m complaining because the music is different enough that it’s not the same and the production value is unreal out of this world. Whatever fault people may be able to find with this album no one will have a problem with the production. Yossi Tyberg hits another home run – no, grand slam.
Between the songs, the arrangers, the singers and the production this CD is the best thing to happen to Jewish music in a long time. Layehudim is sung by Yossi and arranged by Eli Loshinsky. It’s nothing too complicated, but its a great opener.
Special attention should be paid to the lyrics as they are a perfect example of what makes Yossi Green so good. He doesn’t just pluck lyrics out of a Tehilim. He puts thought into them, he combines ideas and gives the lyrics a staring role in the song. (Ein Lanu Oirah Eleh Torah! Genius!)
Song # 2: Anovim Anovim
In my humble opinion this is th best slow song on the album. It’s also one of the best slow songs we’ve heard collectively in years. There have been some great slow songs over the last few years, but none with the heart and soul that this one posses. The serenity of it all is majestic. Moshiach standing on top of the Beis Hamikdash calling out to the Yidden. Come home, it’s time. I mean, wow, blow my mind why don’t you.
Picture it, listen to this song while holding that image in your head. It’s simply magical. As for the song itself, Yossi’s composition is brilliant and Daniel Freibergs arrangement is sophisticated and yet somehow still simple. Daniel Freibergs last turn with MBD was the legendary Let My People Go album. This song also showcases the MBD we haven’t heard in many years. This song deserves a standing ovation.
Song # 3: Sefor
Anovim may have been my favorite slow song on the album but Sefor is my favorite song on this album. The reason for that is because it’s the most different from what contemporary Jewish music is. It’s not a new sound, but its a new sound for this genre of Jewish music. It’s not new when contemporary Jewish artists and groups like Miami Boys Choir sing “a sephardic song” thats not a new sound. It’s not new when they start with “The Chaseedish” song. That’s just inter genre trading. Is there a real difference between Shnitzler, Shwekey? Sure on the outside, but they all live within the same genre.
On Sefor we get a truly different sound coupled with a truly different arrangement. The arrangements are done by Shai Bachar (Dudu Fisher’s right hand musical man) and Eli Loshinksy. It’s fresh it’s fun, it’s singable and it comes together great at the end with Rabbi Karo, a Temoni pronouncing the words accordingly. One again special mention of awesome lyrics. Using Lev Tahor was great because Eli and Gadi’s voice complimented this song perfectly. Although I hear more Eli and then Gadi, and I’m a little bummed it doesn’t seem Ari is in it at all.
Song # 4: Beshifticha
Shloime Gertner rules in my book. I’d say this is my favorite fast song on the album, but it’s not that fast. It’s a groovy tune with awesome music. This is the first song then the musicians stand out a cut above the rest. While Shloime sings this song great, he doesn’t bring anything exciting to the table. I have to agree with some of the other bloggers and commenters. Shloime is playing it too safe. Like I said, the star of this song is the music, the tune, the lyrics and the musicians. It is a perfect fit for Shloime and could have easily been on his last album. It also shows, yet again, the Yossi doesn’t just copy lyrics from a sefer. He cultivates them, he makes them into a song.
Song # 5: Ve’oz Yihu
This song features Haim Israel who is huge in Israel but receives little or no attention from the mainstream Jewish music crowd in America. I’ve been a fan of his for a while and that is why I was very weired out when I had heard he was doing a song with Shloime Dachs. No disrespect to Dachs, but Yigdal was a massive failure in fusing the two styles together. it fell flatter then flat. Yigdal is not a bad song, but I don’t see what it didn’t work well with Shloime Dachs. He just sounded funny on that song.
On this album, Yossi invites Haim to sing a slow song, something that I think Haim Israel excels out. He has such a mesmerizing voice. Some of the other reviewers felt that this wasn’t a good song for Haim Israel but I didn’t feel that. There are portions of this song that when Haim is singing (the high part mainly) I feel like if I close my eyes I’d be transported to a beautiful place. There is something very special about this song and I think it comes out really nice. The song is very nicely arranged by Moshe Laufer. Also, lyrically another home run.
Song # 6: Al Todin.
A couple years ago when I was first hearing about this album the thing that left me with my jaw on the floor was that Yossi Green was making a CD that would feature both Itzchak Meir Helfgot and Matisyahu. Obviously not on the same track, but it got me really excited that an album would have such a diverse array of talent.
Sadly, for reasons that we don’t really know (although most have speculated it has to do with the Sony contract) Matisyahu backed out of singing this song. The song was composed for Matisyahu. It was meant for him, so Mr. Pshemesh and Zahor end up being judged on that account.
For the most part I think they do a good job. If you remove the Matisyahu element from the song it’s a nice enough song. It’s got yet another great concept lyrically. It’s written well, it’s got that straight outta the island authentic Jamaica feel. But thats it, it doesn’t have any electricity to it. I think that is what Matisyahu would have brought to this song. Again, even lyrically it was written for him. (Don’t judge a brother until you are in his place.) Yes, it’s a decent enough song, but Matisyahu would have jammed, beat boxed and sung the heck out of this song. This song never recovers from that loss.
Song # 7: Lama
This is the sleeper song of the album. Who woulda thought on an album featuring MBD, Fried, Lipa, Gertner, Helfgot and others that a song sung by Mo Kiss, a virtual unknown to the mainstream JM world, would stand out so much. I have heard Mo Kiss’s name before, but I hadn’t paid attention. I will now, I promise you that. Mo does an amazing job with this song. He sounds great, as does Yossi.
As far as the song itself? I love it. I didn’t expect much from a non MBD/Fried song, so I went into this song not knowing what to expect. It’s a really fun song, fun to sing, and fun to listen to. It seems Yossi, Mo and all the musicians have a great time playing ans singing this song. The song is composed by Eli Loshinsky who outdoes himself on this tune. He’s also making a very strong mark for himself and I think we’re gonna see Loshinsky rise to the top as far as called upon arrangers.
Song # 8: Kanei
Here we have another song that a few of my fellow commenters and bloggers did not care for much. Some people felt that the song wasn’t big enough for Helfgot. I’ve been told that this song was originally meant for Fried and that he intended to have it on Bein Kach but dropped it. I guess I could see Fried singing it, but I just don’t know. I don’t really have a problem with Helfgot singing it. I think Helfgot sounds superb and his vocals are stunning.
I think the music is really nice and the tune is a good tune. I don’t think its in the top five on this album, but I still think its a really good song. I will admit that I don’t think this is Yossi’s best vocal on the album. Leib Yaakov Rigler is stunning with the arrangement and the strings are very well done. (Loka Zaltzman & The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.)
Song # 9: Yossel.
The first time I heard this song I thought it was going to be very cheesy. The entire song is Lipa praising Yossi Green, mainly by listings all his hits. Well, I was wrong. While in theory it sounds cheesy and over the top, in actuality its really fun. It’s fun because as the listener we also get to take a trip down memory lane and be reminded of all the awesome songs Yossi has given to Jewish Music. Iconic songs that have helped shape Jewish Music. I’d say that earns you one praise filled song.
Lipa is the right man for the job. If you would have wanted to really take a risk, you could have had Fried and MBD sing this song together, since no one has been on the receiving end of more Yossi Green hits then these two. But Lipa’s still great on this song.
The music is a throwback to 1950’s Jukebox rock. It’s Elvis and Happy Days. The production is tops and Shai Bachar nails the arrangement. It’s a really fun song and a great dancer.
At this point in the review I’d like to take a mini break and make a comment.
While I was writing this review I realized something. I mean, I knew it before, but it became much clearer while writing this review. The majority of these songs are all somehow tied to Moshiach. It’s the theme of the album, The 8th Note, it’s about a time when Moshaich comes how the 8th note will be revealed.
I think it’s really awesome for a Jewish album to have a theme. Too many albums that come out today are just a collections of songs with no uniting theme.
It wasn’t always like that, back in the day Fried and MBD had more then a few “themed” albums. I’d like to see a return to that from the newbies of Jewish music. Shwekey, Gabay, etc, etc.
Now back to the review.
Song # 10 Hesach Hadaas.
The reason the mini break came before the Fried song review was that I heard a lot of chatter about how “oh, Fried with another Moshiach song again” which bothered me. First of all, if we’re at the point that Fried singing about Moshiach has become boring or cheesy then we all have a problem.
The issue of Moshiach shouldn’t be something thats referred to as typical or cheesy. We Lubavitchers, after all, do consider Moshiach to be quite a timely and important topic. We can’t let singing about or talking about Moshiach became a dated topic. We’re all playing for the same endgame right? Yemos Hamoshiach? Everything in our daily lived should be to finalize the Geulah. I’m not trying to get all rabbinical on you, I just don’t want to hear people tell me that Fried singing about Moshiach is “so typical”, it’s not typical, it’s relevant.
Second, and more closely connected to my other comments. The theme of the album is Moshiach. What do you want him to sing about, chicken noodle soup? I think that if 10 of the 14 songs were about Moshiach and Fried’s was about Yossi’s hits, everyone would say, “Isn’t it odd most of the songs are about Moshiach and Fried didn’t sing one?” I think it’s more about the song then anything else, and this song is a very Fried’esque song.
Now as for reviewing the song … It’s the most typical song on the album. (Ya, I know thats funny, I said typical.) it’s a great song and Fried sound fan-frigin-tastic on it. The music rocks the house. Yaron Gutfried, Ron Vered, Avi Singolda and Arie Volinez do a great job and Mona’s arrangement is a step back to the real Fried classic rocks. But there isn’t anything out of this world about the song. It’s nothing new, and it should be for this album. Avremel deserved a more wacky outside the box song. Maybe he should have replaced Matisyahu on Al Todin? Or maybe not, that may be too wacky.
Song #11 Naseh V’nishma
This is a Yossi Green solo song, arranged by Shai Bachar. It’s a nice enough song, but probably the weakest on the album. In fact, one reviewer even forgot to review it, the first time around! (Just messin with you YK. Also check out JB’s review here.) If I forget about all the other songs on this album and take it for what it is by itself, it’s a nice song.
I love the lyrics, I like the Yiddish drops, and I think Yossi sounds pretty good. I just don’t think the song is a home run. I really like the big band feel to it, very jazzy, very smooth. I just think maybe it could have benefited from another mainstream singer. Wanna play a fun game? Which Jewish singer do you think could have pulled off singing this song who wasn’t already on the album. I’m gonna go with ….. Dedi. (Actually the more I think about it the more I think Dedi would have been awesome for this song.)
Song # 12 and 14.
Let’s start first with the English version. A great simple intro, very nice, classy piece. The song itself is a beautiful song, very well done, although the lyrics do fall a bit cheesy at times. I would offer this though, as ‘English’ lyrics go for mainstream albums it’s better then anything since Father Don’t Cry. It’s a very feel good song, with a nice message.
We’re approaching Sefirah and that means for the third year in a row we will be treated with the very REAL “not music” guys from A.K.A.Pella.
So what did I think of the AKA Pella real music debut? I LOVED IT. I thought it was amazing. I thought they were just brilliant. If I were British I’d say they were bloody brilliant. (inside joke, sorry.)
(Check this blog tomorrow for a post about AKA Pella which was written based on this song. It’s my “open memo to AKA Pella.” You’ll be surprised with what I have to say.)
The high end production also probably helped, as did a beautiful Yossi Green composition. Not to mention that this song was arranged by the very popular in Israel, Momi Levi. If you don’t know who Momi Levi is, he’s one of the hottest R & B stars in Israel right now.
This is just a great song, and when you take away the one weakness, the English, and replace it with the Hebrew version, well, it’s nothing short of amazing. Ohad always sounds so good when he’s singing in Ivrit. As much as I loved AKA Pella on the English side, Ohad’s version is just that much better. Singing along with Ohad is the uncredited vocals of Momi Levi, the arranger. It’s a little odd that he’s credited for the arrangements and music, but not for the singing.
Song # 13: Mi Mi Adir.
There isn’t much to see here, it’s not Anovim, it’s not Lama, and it’s not Sefor. But it is a fun song. The arrangements are by Daniel Freiberg, although I don’t know why if you have such talented and rarely used arranger to you use him for such an average song. What do I like about this song? The inspiration for the lyrics. Yossi writes that he learned that Siman Tov is for a boy, by a Bris and Mazel Tov is for a girl. Thats why, by a wedding we say both, Siman Tov, Mazel Tov. For both the Chasson and the Kalleh.
I just really, really enjoyed this album. I think its so fresh and so full of life. It’s got such a diverse sound and so much going on. With 14 songs how could you possibly go wrong? Even the “weaker” songs on the album like Naaseh and Mi Mi Adir are still really great songs. Anovim is huge and I think over time will go down as an iconic Yossi Green song.
I also think that you will see a lot of Sefor ripoffs over the next two years from upcoming albums in Jewish music. Yossi Green is a trend setter, and I expect to see a lot of whats in this album littered throughout Jewish music over the next few years.