REVIEW 1: FROM JM DERECH
(Scroll down for second review)
Shloime Gertner, everyone’s favorite English chossid is back. After a hit debut album “Nissim”, he returns with his follow up album “Say Asay”. The question is, will it be a flop or a successful continuation of Gertner’s music career? Obviously it depends on the listener. I may like a certain style and you may not. Hopefully this review will give you a head start on making a decision.
Gertner has the sweetest voice in Jewish music. I mean that literally. If anyone could sing a lullaby, it’s Gertner with his soft, sweet, melodious voice. Check out this video to see what I mean.
Last time, Gertner was produced by Yossi Tyberg alone, but now with the joining of forces, he is produced by TeeM productions – Tyberg and Gershy Moskowitz, the same people who produced Taussig & Yisroel Werdyger. If you take a look at the included booklet, you will find that most of the songs were composed by Yossi Green (5) and Yitzy Waldner (4). In fact, you will find that a number of the songs feature Waldner and Green singing with Gertner.
Say Asay is definitely a new page for Gertner. There’s a lot of music on this album that’s different than the average Jewish song. Some will find it refreshing – others will find it… well… not refreshing. I’m in between. I don’t dislike it, but I’m not in love with it. It could be that these new Yossi Green compositions are the new style of music Green was referring to in a recent interview. Regardless, prepare to be surprised :).
Say Asay - A relatively short song for the JM scene (3:31). It’s very catchy, happy-go-lucky and full of cool Yossi Green background vocals. Gertner has some catchy English lyrics mixed in with the Asay lyrics from shemoneh esrei. Expect to hear a lot of this song once everyone hears this album, it’s sure to be a hit. At the end of the song, listen for Gertner delivering the words Say Asay as if it’s a catch-phrase at the end of an advertisement. The one downside of this song, being the title track, is that it should have been tweaked a bit more arrangement wise. It’s not on the same level as Baruch She’amar later in the album. See the video clip of Say Asay here.
Hashamayim – This is my favorite slow song on the album. If you turn the volume up and sit in your comfy chair with your eyes closed while listening to the chorus of the song, you can imagine flying in the clouds, touching the heavens… Anyway, back here on earth, this song is so refreshing. Waldner’s background vocals add a ton to this song, making it something really special. My favorite part of the song is the “Vaanachnu” section at 3:35.
Ashrei Mi – Disco styled song, a genre that Gertner appears to favor. There’s not a whole lot to this song, but there’s also not a lot to Kulom Ahuvim from MBD’s new album. I find them similar and this song will catch on fire like Kulom Ahuvim did for MBD. It’s simply a fantastic hora and expect to hear it at upcoming simchas.
Nishmas - There seems to be a lot of Nishmas lately. Yehuda Green, Shua Kessin to name a couple. This one starts out eerie and ominous. It sounds like there are kids voices talking in the background at the end of Gertner’s intro. Is this song easily singable? No. Is it a gorgeous song and a fantastic listen? Definitely. However, I warn you, you need to have patience to appreciate this song. Yossi Green enters the second time around and adds some heartwarming harmonies behind Gertner.
Besimcha – More funky music! You can substitute the refrain of this song with the words “La la la la” and still get the desired playful effect. This song has Yossi Green written all over it. It sounds like it’s straight off of Green’s Shades of Green Album. It’s a very repetitive song yet still a fun listen. Not one of my favorites, but it may be yours!
Shabbos Hayom – This song screams Baruch Levine. And what do you know!? He composed it :). Gertner welcomes the Kol Noar Boys Choir and their star soloist Ami Eller who make a guest appearance in this song. They should have used the choir and Eller in more of this album. The voices of children really add a lot to an album. Take a look at Baruch Levine’s first album – Yosef Schick was practically a co-singer in that CD and it was a tremendous success. Kol Noar sounds amazing in this song, just like they did with Al Tirah on their album. Coming back to Gertner, he sings this song with such melodic brilliance! (If that made sense…)
Baruch She’amar – YAHOOOOO!!!!!!! Words can not express how much I love this song. I think it sounds like a Chevra song and my wife thinks it sounds like Israeli techno. Whatever it may be, it just works! From the arrangements to the vocals, it’s music listening paradise for me. I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite song on the album. “Baruch She’amar Barubabup Sheamar!” You’ll know what I’m talking about after you hear it ;).
Re’eh – This song is a classic Jewish slow song sung as dinner music at chassunahs. There’s nothing about this song that jumps out at me as unique or special, although the ending is very nice.
Ein K’elokainu - Cool arrangements, weird song. I don’t even know how to classify this song. It’s like he tried to combine a secular and Jewish sound into one song. It’s clearly masterfully arranged, however there’s not much to it and it wont go over too well with the yeshivish crowd. It sounds like something off of Eli Gerstner’s Tek-Noy.
Min Hameitzar – This song is composed by Yossi Gurvitz and he also does vocals on this song. It’s a slow song that has a better low part than chorus. Gertner definitely puts a lot of feeling into this song. Can you feel it? The extra minute of electric guitar at then end is kind of random and isn’t needed.
Mesameach – There’s nothing exquisite about this song. It’s pleasant, but nothing jumps out at you. The high point of the song is when Gertner sings “Shelcha-ahh-ahh!” Motty Illowitz adds some background vocals on this one as well as a piece in composing it with Yitzy Waldner.
Mi Von Siach – Although Yossi Green composed this song, his vocals don’t belong alone in this one. His voice is too deep to sing this song by himself. He sounds great behind Gertner though. This song has a nice range to it, however I feel like it never takes off. But I’m just a writer not a composer :). See a video of the song at a real chuppah here.
Happy Birthday - Not sure what happened here… It was good until the English lyrics “happy birthday” came in. Cool arrangements but when my wife and I heard the lyrics “Happy Birthday”, we looked at each other and shrugged. Like, where did that come from? It’s a catchy tune and a funny song.
Yevarecheca – Another eerie tune added to the mix with this song. I don’t care much for the low part but the chorus is fantastic. Very calming and smooth. Yitzy Waldner’s back up vocals add a nice touch and I really enjoy the flute work by Ofer Peled on this song. It’s a nice touch adding two uncommon instruments into the mix. The Oud, played by Amos Hoffman & the Tar, played by Yankale Segal.
Lets start off with the design of the album, because that is the first thing you see before listening to the music. It’s modern, up to date, very refreshing.
And then when you open up your CD put it into a player, the cover art gives you a good idea of the refreshing music.
Lets go through the songs quickly. I’ll just drop a line or two about every song.
Say Asay – This song has Yossi Green all over it, in style and in vocal backup, and I mean that in a good way! it gives you a bit of a taste of what is to come further down in the album.
Hashomayom – This slow song composed by Yitzy Waldner touched me the first time I heard it, and its nice to finally put a voice to Yitzy! I have been singing (or at least trying) this song after the first time hearing it, and have played it over and over. Awesome guitar solo at 4:00-4:15!
Ashrei Mi – Here we start with some electric music, how is that for a beat? A song by Pinky Weber, it’s surely the arrangement by Eli Lishinsky that gives this song even more life.
Nishmas – The second song by Yossi G’reen, a very calming slow song. where you can hear the sweetness of Gertners voice very nicely. Great harmonies by Yossi!
Besimcha – And you thought you had enough of yossi green? NO WAY! This guy knows how to surprise you! Besimcha it is, again with electro music, and a touch of sephardi style music. Walla Walla Yawalawa (now, I was not expecting that.)
Shabbos Hayom -Tthe slow songs on this album are really very hartzig, this song included. I love the solo by … (I thought I recognized that voice) Ami Eller. The Kol-Noar Choir adds a great touch to this song.
Boruch She’amar – Electric music, here we come again! This time it’s composed by Yitzy Waldner again (and you thought he only did slow songs…) This song can get you through the day.
Re’eh - This is just a slow song, not much to write about.
Ein Kelokeinu – I don’t see this track ending up in your average Shul on Shabbos… but a good song it still is, upbeat, full of energy yet another great Waldner composition.
Min Hameitzar - What I find with the slow songs on this album isthat they are all very smooth, soft and pleasant to listen to. It will be up to the public to decide what one will be a hit, becuase they all have potential.
Mesameach – If you did not have enough of the Besimcha song, here you have some more Simcha, this time in a more Sephardi style and pronunciation. This time it comes along with some auto-tuning.
Mi Von Siach – This one will be an other skipper for me. I’ll have to listen to it a bit more to write something about this.
Happy Birthday – This morning my kids (3yrs and 2) where insisting on having this song on. Its a very catchy one, again a very unexpected twist to this song. Is this going to be the new Jewish Happy Birthday Song?
Yevarechecha - This song starts off very Middle Eastern, as if its the background music for a documentary of the Bedouins in the desert… a slow song, that’s a great way to finish off a sweet album.
I realized that the longest song on this album is 5 minutes and 50 seconds, for a JM album that is SHORT, although I did find that some songs finished too soon, and could have been a bit longer, but we have a repeat button for that, don’t we?
All together a great follow up of the first album, although it did take some digestion, but am loving it now.