The CD review of Ashira V’Azamrah
When Bayis Neeman, Yisroel Werdyger’s debut album first came out, I thought that I had heard the fusion of heimishe music and contemporary quality taken to its peak. The album was packed with great songs and was completely on par with the standards of contemporary music.
Featuring brilliant arrangements, high-end recording quality and unbelievable songwriting, the album seemed unbeatable. At the same time it was so tastefully done as to make it acceptable in even the most discerning of homes.
So when I heard claims from Gershy Moskowitz and Yossi Tyberg of Teem Productions that the new album would surpass the previous one, needless to say I was a bit doubtful. However, it became clear to me after my first listen to Ashira Va’azamra — and I have listened a good twenty times since — that the rumors were not only true but in fact quite understated.
The tight rhythm sections, top-notch recording quality, impeccable mix and perfect mastering all instantly brought back the state of euphoria I experienced with my first listen of Bayis Neeman.
Beyond that, Werdyger and his “Teem” introduced revolutionary new beats, fresh contemporary progressions and new songwriting and musical influences that added some real bite and spunk, more than anything the heimishe listener has ever heard before.
Werdyger’s voice was in top form throughout the album. While the sweetness and warmth of his voice were present in his last album, his vocal control has clearly reached new heights. The song selection, an eclectic mix from both new and established songwriters, is packed with hits that are fresh and new, yet heimish and warm.
Right off the bat, it was instantly clear that a huge amount of care was taken to make sure the album was not overdone.
As opposed to the “secular album with Jewish words” we so often find at the end of these sorts of fusion attempts, with Ashira Va’azamra we are given a completely heimishe album that has been taken to the next level of professionalism and talent.
Arranger Shua Fried lovingly crafted a musical work that with all its freshness and originality can still be brought into any home without fear of exposing one’s family to unwanted outside influences.
While I had a great deal of respect for Fried before this album, his ability to pull off such a balance without compromising the heimishe values that Werdyger and Teem Productions embrace increased my respect for him even more.
While Ashira Va’azamra has just hit the stores, in time for Chanukah, I find myself already impatiently waiting for album number three. I’d give three thumbs up if I had another hand.
Mendel “the Sheichet” Markel is a writer, journalist and singer-songwriter. He is a co-founder and regular contributing author of www.jewishmusicreport.com.