A fresh duo on the scene blends styles with an alluring new album. Rogers Park, made up of two Chicagoans Yosef Peysin and Mordy Kurtz, draws on a folk-rock sound. They keep their harmonies light and easy; their cheery vocals are upbeat and intriguing. Jewish music junkies will find echoes of Megama and Moshe Hecht reverberating throughout; and maybe even a touch of Journeys. The two vocalists blend extremely well together, for a genuine folk sound, ala folk legends Peter Paul & Mary.
The opening numbers (I Believe in You, Kingdom Kid, and Golden Crown) are their strongest offerings on the album, as well as the title track, The Maggid. Generally speaking, the arrangements are strong – simple, but relatable. Ruby Harris (of Diaspora), a fellow Chicagoan, brings some more classic Jewish vibes with his appearances, and he does not disappoint. His solos are full of resonant color. I thoroughly enjoy the guitarwork, mostly courtesy of Matt Dougherty, who also is responsible for the solid drums and percussions.
The album’s greatest strength lies in the skills of the musicians Rogers Park brought aboard. At the same time, while the general song quality is good, the selection of some songs heads towards the hokey: “Pushka”, a nod to Moshe Yess, is one of his weakest creations; and “The Holy One”, a folksy take on the wild Chabad niggun Nyet Nikavo, has elements of the wacky that divest it of the spirituality it portrays – despite Harris’ heroic efforts therein. Should have stuck to the original, my friends. Sukkah Falling, by contrast, has the humorous and energetic presentation they were looking to touch. A final critique: more work should have been done to present a slow and spiritual side. All of the songs end up in the fast lane, and that takes a bit away from some of the excellence.
All that on the table, you gotta hand it to them: Peysin and Kurtz have presented us with a stellar freshman album. Looking forward to more from Rogers Park!
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