Have you ever been at work on a Friday—or at home prepping for Shabbos—and thought to yourself, “I wish I had a playlist of just Shabbos songs to have on while I work”? There are actually several worthy competitors in this genre, ranging from the old-school (Regesh Volume 3 and Volume 7) to the mainstream (Benny Friedman’s Bnei Heichala) to the modern (Lev Tahor 4). To that list comes The Shabbos Experience, a new production from Moshe Masri, better known as his label, MRM Music. With music and engineering featuring our very own Hillel Kapnick, The Shabbos Experience is a nice, simple “greatest-hits” collection of Shabbos songs performed by some of the up-and-coming voices in the Jewish Music business. Here we go:
Tracks 1-6, “Shabbos Preparation”, feat. Yossi Goldstein: This set is a nice collection of Erev Shabbos-themed hits, ranging from Shlomo Carlebach’s “Mizmor Shir” to MBD’s “Ana Melech”, performed by Yossi Goldstein, who you may recognize from varied projects including A Cappella Treasury Shabbos and Sameach at the Wheel 2. Hillel’s keyboard sequencing mostly keeps to the background on this set (and with most of the album), but he sneaks in a few “hey-wait-what-was-that?” chords, just to keep us guessing.
Tracks 7-9, “Shalom Aleichem”, feat. Hillel Kapnick: Speaking of Hillel, he takes center stage for these tracks, which feature three versions of “Shalom Aleichem”: Super-old-school (you know, the really classic one), regular-old-school (from Regesh 3), and new-school (from Benny Friedman’s Yesh Tikvah).
Tracks 10-11, “Yesimcha Medley”, feat. Mendy J: As we approach the meal, it’s time daven for and bless the children. Mendy J (check out his new single!) handles those duties deftly. I particularly like the fact that we didn’t get subjected to the lovely-but-overplayed “V’zakeinu” by Baruch Levine and “Yesimcha” by Avraham Fried—instead we are treated to “V’zakeinu” by Avraham Fried and “Yesimcha” by Yitzchak Rosenthal and Yaakov Shwekey. Refreshing.
Tracks 12-13, “Shabbos Night Seudah Medley”, feat. Yedidya Alper: Time for Friday night zemiros—“Kol Mekadesh” and “Kah Ribon”—both classics. Maybe a bit too classic. True story: My very last Shabbos in high school, the gabbai approached my chavrusa and me in the beis medrash on Friday night. He said, “You are both davening tomorrow—I don’t care who does shacharis and who does mussaf. However, if either of you use the song ‘Kol Mekadesh’ for kedushah, I will personally go up to the amud and pull you off of it myself.” Yeah, my class had a tendency to beat songs into the ground.
Tracks 14-17, “Shabbos Day Zemiros Medley”, feat. Baruch Naftel: This set brings us from shacharis (“Keil Adon”) through lunch (“Yom Zeh”, “Baruch Keil Elyon”, and “Yom Shabbason”) in a straight-up freilach/rock set.
Tracks 18-19, “A Sephardi Shabbos”, feat. Hillel Kapnick: Hillel switches accents for these two tracks—“Ki Eshmera Shabbat” and “Dror Yikra”. Probably the best vocal performance on the album.
Tracks 20-21, “Havdalah”, feat. Baruch Naftel: Baruch returns doing his best Carlebach/Green/Katz/Katz imitation for “Gott Fun Avraham” and “Havdalah”. Break out the guitars and start the kumzitz, everyone!
Track 22, “Eliyahu Hanavi”, feat. Aaron Simcha Futerman: This song was originally recorded by Moshav Band for their 2005 album Return Again. This version is more of a disco/rock fusion than the original, which was slower and more folksy. I particularly like Hillel’s rock organ solo around halfway through the track.
Moshe Masri has been on a production tear recently, having released at least three albums within the last few months with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The Shabbos Experience is definitely worth a spin for anyone who is in need for some easy listening on a Friday afternoon and wants to hear a fresh take on many of the classics we all grew up on.