In the last few days I’ve heard a lot of comparisons of Lipa to R’ Shlomo Carlebach. Obviously not in the musical style, but in how much both of these people did and are impacting the state of Jewish Music. Actually, in some ways, they do both have similar styles. R’ Shlomo was an entertainer, a storyteller, he connected to his listeners, and he spoke to them, heart to heart. Lipa is doing the same thing today, with a modern twist.
I think when we look back at these years 20/30 years from now Lipa will be revered musically just as much as R’ Shlomo, maybe even more because unlike R’ Shlomo, Lipa has embraced his place in Jewish Music and is hungry to continue.
I won’t sit here and tell you every song on this CD is amazing and wow, wow, wow. There are a lot of solid, solid gems, and a lot of pretty good songs. There are also a few klunkers, and although 16 songs sounds like a real treat for fans, this CD’s grade gets brought down because of the 4 or 5 so so songs. Without those songs, this CD would have 10-12 amazing songs. Something very few artists can boast.
I think this is a lesson to both fans and artists. More is not better. Even though fans want more, and artists want to give fans more. At the end of the day, we’d all rather 10 or 12 perfect or amazing songs as opposed to 10 great songs, 2 so so songs and 4 duds.
What I really like about Lipa’s CD is the sharpness of his messages. I think when people go through rough times or trauma, its best for them to speak to someone. For other people, creatives, artisans, they can heal themselves through their craft.
Lipa’s last CD, A Poshiter Yid was a massive success, but it was also dripping with angst, sadness and heartbreak over what just happened to him. This was right after the big event catastrophe and Lipa was ready to show the world that he isn’t all shtick. He put out a beautiful CD with soul and creativity but also more commercialism then you’d expect. It was an overall more tame musical experience.
Keinanohora was a musical tour de force. It was Lipa’s first major outing after breaking through to the main stream. It was a musical and creative delight.
This CD to me, and maybe some of you will disagree, heck, Lipa himself may be reading this and disagreeing, but it’s just my own take on this. I believe this CD is Lipa showing that he’s past all that misery and sadness. Lipa has accepted who he is musically, and where his place is. He no longer cares about the peanut gallery. He is comfortable with where the lines are and he knows the stakes. He also is fully embracing his role in Jewish music. His mission in life, to bring happiness, and a smile to peoples face. To carry on the message of “Ivdu Es Hashem B’Simcha”, Lipa is all about serving Hashem with joy, with a smile, and to a great tune playing in the background.
In songs like A Gut Vort , Vus Toot Dir Vei and Ich Hub Gachapt – we see Lipa’s maturity and response to people who set out to just destroy and demean him. In A Gut Vort we learn about the power of our words, both good and bad.
In Vus Toot Dir we see Lipa telling us that all those kvetchers and people who are angry – that we should pity these people because something is ailing them and thats why they are so angry. What a mature response to all of that pain.
Then again in a song like Ich Hob Gechapt, Lipa goes and says, but still … even though I get that this is how these people are, I also get that there is bad in our communities – I look back at my Cheder days, even though the teachers hit me and yelled at me and demanded so much, I still look back fondly. I don’t resent my upbringing or the world I was raised and live in now. In fact I embrace it.
I’m not a psychologist, but I think anyone with a degree would admit that’s an amazingly healthy state of being. I for one am proud of Lipa for everything he’s been through and that instead of cracking up or going completely off the path, this is his response.
That’s why I think if you don’t understand Yiddish you must go to Lipa’s site and read the (loose) translations. Or better yet, sit with someone who does know Yiddish and break each line down. There is a lot to really enjoy lyrically. You will also better understand what I just wrote about the state of Lipa on this CD.
Each song will get an “Eh”, “Good”, “Great!” of “Perfect!!” for lyrics, composition, and arrangement.
1) Splash – AKA Mayim Rabim – Lyrics: Perfect! – Fried’s flavor with Lipa’s creativity and editing. Composition: Great! Arrangement: Perfect! Possibly the best arrangement on the CD.
2) Chosson Domeh Lemelech – Lyrics: Perfect! Composition: Good Arrangement: Good – The lyrics are great but I just don’t go crazy for Sephardic Lipa.
3) Meimka DLipa: – Lyrics: Great! Composition: Good. Arrangement: Good. – It’s a nice song, but just feels like a warm up that happens later on.
4) Mi Chochom: Lyrics: Good. Composition: Good. Arrangement: Eh – I’m pretty sure there is some kind of line somewhere about how a wise man is a silent man. I’ll leave it at that.
5) The Language of Music: – Lyrics: Good Composition: Eh Arrangement: Good. – Much more energy then preview track, but still not on par with upcoming songs.
6) Melech Malchei Hamlachim: Lyrics: Good Composition: Perfect! Arrangement: Eh. This song is the first song since the first track that really starts playing on all cylinders. This is the final warm up before the CD gets into full swing. But it does show that sometimes the arrangement can throw the song out of wack and in some cases Lipa needs to be edited, being that between a problematic arrangement and a vocal outing that is all over the place, a good song gets hurt.
7) Ich Hab Gechapt. Lyrics: Great! Composition: Great! Arrangement: Perfection!! – Finally, Lipa’s playful side comes out to play. A wonderful Yossi Green Klezmer track, with a creative and juicy arrangement, shticky lyrics, and positive message. Yossi shines in 8th note style, and Lipa is adorable. Kids choir is used perfectly. Yossi also has some of the best lines like the perfect “Lipa, Hehr Off Tzu Cholemin!” Isn’t that the truth? Lipa is a dreamer, and I hope he never stops!
8) Mizmor Lesoda: Lyrics: Great! Composition: Great! Arrangement: Perfection!! – While the composition is awesome, it’s the arrangement that makes this song just ooze with energy. This song will be a cocnert staple and first dance mainstay for years and years to come. It’s probably one of the few authentic, Chassidic Rock songs and Katina’s guitar solo on this track would make Yossi Piamenta blush.
9) Vaanpa Nehirin: Lyrics:Perfection!! Composition: Great! Arrangement: Great! Motti Illowitz was getting a bit of a reputation as someone who only delivers solid fast songs like Yener and Bayis Neeman B’Yisroel. I guess Motti wanted us all to know he can compose a song that reaches deep into your soul and tugs your heartstrings along with the best of them. Motti does just that. This song while not being as crazy as some of Lipa’s other slow songs, is just what the doctor ordered after the heavy rock course the track before. The song uses beautiful lyrics from Friday Night Shabbos davening in the Kegavneh.
10) Vus Tut Der Vee/AKA Nu/AKA What hurts you? – Lyrics: Perfection!! Composition: Great! Arrangement Great! I feel for the people who do not have the ability to fully understand the Yiddish heavy songs. Lipa’s creativity and style shine in tracks where he speaks bluntly and openly. Translations can be found on Lipa’s new website.
11) Ayei: Lyrics: Great! Composition: Good Arrangement: Great! Composed by MBD. Who else can say MBD sang on their album, aside from Yeedle, anyone? MBD and Lipa are a great combo and although this song feels more like it fell off the back of the Kulam Ahuvim truck then made for the Meimka D’Lipa CD, thats fine with me.
12) Chayim: Lyrics: Good. Composition: Good. Arrangement: Good. This song is classic Jewish music through and through. So if you don’t like Lamm/Laufer style arrangements then hit skip, but if that doesn’t bother you, stick around. On a CD with so much out of the box, I’m very happy to have a few “normal” tracks. The strings on this song are incredible and really give the song emotional depth. At the concert Lipa said they used a 13 piece string set and did it three times so it sounds like a 39 piece and it really sounds good.
13) A Git Vort: Lyrics: Perfection! Composition: Great! Arrangement: Great! This is possibly one of the best songs on the CD and again it’s the personality and lyrics that shine on this track. The message of this song, that every person loves a good word. As hurtful as a bad word can be, a good word can really make someones day. Lipa and Shauly Grossman is a winning combo!! It’s a song like this that puts Lipa at the front of the pack.
14) Hora – Yes!, Loshan Hora – No! Lyrics: Good. Composition: Great! Arrangement: Perfection!! What would a Jewish CD be without at least one solid Hora. Lipa said he made something for everyone and he meant it. It’s not my favorite song composition wise, but Lipa’s personality can’t be hidden, even in an average composition, and with a very very solid arrangement, this song ends up growing on your very fast. Extra love for Lipa’s rap session 2 minutes in. Again, this type of stuff is why Lipa is Lipa.
15) Achron Achron Chaviv: Lyrics: Perfection! Composition: Good. Arrangement: Perfection! Another perfect example of why Lipa is Lipa. composition wise there is not much happening in this song. But between the lyrics, Lipa’s vocals and style, and the out of this world arrangement, this song is easily one of the best, if not the best on the CD. This is a song you turn up your Bose headphones on full blast and just close your eyes and get lost in it’s beautiful sound.
16) English Version of Meimka Dlipa. Take above comments from Yiddish version of song and just repeat.
Final quick hits. Splash/Mayim, Mizmor Lesoda, Achron Achron, Ich Hab Gechapt, Git Vort, Ve’anpaha Ne’hirin & Vus Toot Dir Vee
My one and only criticism is that I think that Lipa is just so talented and creative sometimes he does need a person to keep it contained. There are some tracks where Lipa could use this, especially like I wrote previously on a song like Melech.
What else is there to say? This is for all those fans of Jewish Music that complain “it’s all the same”, “It’s boring, typical, predictable”, every song is just a basic melody to random pesukim”, that is everything this CD is not.
There is heart, passion, creativity, artistry, love, hope, and top notch quality. This is everything Jewish Music should be, with all its warts and flaws, and I for one hope to keep hearing this from Lipa for years and years to come.