I don’t know if you heard, but Benny Friedman’s CD was released!!!!!!! There is no way I can get around not posting a review of this one. Already now my in-box is flooded with “well???? What do you think??” emails. I am not going to write a full review yet, but I wanted to just say some thoughts about each song.
This CD was a HUGE letdown, the songs were boring and unoriginal, the lyrics were all from overused sources. Everything about this CD screams – been there done that. I mean is this what we were waiting two years for?? They were so cheap they couldn’t even come up with a name for track 2. Really?
(waits …. takes long pause … )
Obviously I AM JOKING. (I wonder if I’m the only one who will think that was funny.) I just wanted to play a little wit you all.
OK. REAL thoughts.
This is what I would compare hearing this CD to. Imagine buying a lottery ticket, waiting 2 years to see if you win, watching the results live and then winning. Except now imagine instead of the 1 million you thought you won you actually won 100 million!
This CD is in a word, REAL. I wouldn’t suggest changing the title of the CD because I LOVE the whole Taamu thing, but if I had to suggest a second album title it would be EMES. This CD is plain and simple, it’s EMES. Or as Benny would say “art”, something he most definitely stayed true to.
This CD is very unique in that it’s got a lot of different, fun, fresh stuff but it also has very mainstream, down to earth selections as well.
Misod: A very good, solid song. Not from the most original on the CD but it’s a great opener that won’t scare away people who want the more “typical” Jewish music sound. The brass in this song is crazy good.
No Lyrics: As “mainstream” as a song like Misod is, No Lyrics is the other side of the planet. Is it yet another “Niggun” song? Yes. But it’s done a lot different than any Niggun nevo/mendel/moshe’ele/neshama type Niggun. The entire song, with it’s heavy electronic feel is just really fun, open and free flowing.
Uk’sheim: A beautiful slow song. Benny’s vocals are just incredible. I got this feeling many times in this CD but it’s important to say again. This is not just a guy coming out with a CD. This is a voice that only comes along once or twice in a generation. Believe it.
Taamu: This shouldn’t just be the title track, it should be Benny’s personal anthem. This song is everything that Benny Friedman’s CD is. It’s got spirit, it’s got groove, it’s got shtick, strong vocals, amazing choirs, it’s got Chassidish and Chabad friendly lyrics and written by Shmuelly and Bentzy Marcus (AKA 8th Day.) For those that are not in the (Chabad) know, this is sometimes how we say Hashem (Havaieh) and the portion of the song where he sings “Taamu Reu Ki Tov Havaieh!” at 2:40, this is how the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke these words, in the melody composed by the Alter Rebbe ,1st Chabad Rebbe. (Special salute to Avremi G’s fantastic arrangement.)
Hameracheim: Stunning. Trying to describe this would be a diservice to the song, you the reader and Benny. I can’t see too many Jewish singers (aside from “Chazzanish” artists) being able to do what Benny does in this song.
Moshiach: Yes, pump.it.up.people! This song is so much fun. I love the whole vibe of this song, and I love that the name of this song is Moshiach. This might be the best CD to hit Jewish Music since the original Moshaich hit stores. (maybe …) Extra points to a really good Yitzy Spinner choir.
Kad Yasvun: Chaseedish delight. This song is very strong. It takes a while to really start up, but once it hits its stride (about the 4 minute mark) it becomes something really special. Benny’s vocals toward the last third are just shocking. I didn’t know anyone could even do what Benny does at 6:20 through 6:55, and then after that incredible vocal display, it goes into that soft Yiddish (by Meshulam Greenburger, the composer) it’s just, like I said, a delight.
Amar: This Yitzy Waldner track combined with an amazing Mona arrangement and very Leibidig beat makes you feel like you are part of the action. It’s not the strongest song on the CD, but they play with it, and the last 2 minutes of this song are simply delicious!
Yaavducha: Very possibly the best song on the CD for me. Bentzy Marcus composed this track and 8th Day sings along with Benny. How long are we going to have to wait for a Benny Friedman/8th Day CD?? Oh, and that “freshness” your hearing so much about? This song screams of it. You will not hear a song like this on any other “Chassidic” Jewish CD.
Letova: If Yaavducha is my favorite (I said, IF) then Letova is my second favorite. This song just makes you jump out of your chair. I would go to a Benny Friedman concert for this song alone! Everything about this song shouts HOME RUN!
Batuach Ani: I read in a few places that unlike many Jewish CD’s the back end of this album is just as strong, if not stronger than the first half. Batuach is simply a sensational song. It’s passionate and reaches right into your soul. The vocals are soft, no screaming here, no screeching, just pure heartz.
Emes: One of my favorites on the album, this Yiddish track has so much flavor, personality, and Hassidic Attitude. The lyrics, written by Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Manis Friedman (a collaboration I’m pretty sure I never thought anyone of us would ever see) is superb! This is an incredible song to finish the album, a song that could have been a title track, or even an opening track and it shows how strong and deep this CD is that at the last song it delivers one of its best.
I hope to discuss the songs in more detail soon, but soon for me, could be a long time for you. I knew if I didn’t just start writing this now, I might never do it.
Bottom line? It was WELL worth the wait and I dare say we are seeing the changing of the guard here. There are many new exciting singers emerging and Benny is right there with them.
I’m not gonna say it’s the CD of the century, but it’s certainly in my top 5 of the last 20 years.
Not buying this CD would be a historic mistake.