Just like the seasons, singers come and go. Some move on from singing to producing, others to different careers, but every so often a performer disappears for a number of years only to reappear with something extremely exciting for the Jewish music industry. This is one of those situations! Yehuda! (exclamation mark included) has re-entered the industry with an amazing new album. In case you haven’t figured it out by now I will be reviewing Yehuda!’s new album “Rak Lekayim Mitzvos”. Yehuda! Throughout the years has brought us some amazing hits such as “Eftach Pi”, “Higher and Higher”, and one of the best covers of Niggun Neshoma done to-date. With all of the amazing work he’s done so far in mind, let’s jump into this album which is no different!
- Hodu Lashem – In typical Yehuda! style, this album starts off with an exciting groove. Composed by Shuey Kurz this song will definitely bring back all the favorite shtick you almost forgot from the past Yehuda! Albums down to the signature backing vocals, complementary brass lines, and choir arrangements. As a singer who has also released a song from composer Shuey Kurz (Hadran – released 2012) I am obviously a big fan of Shuey’s compositions, and this was without a doubt the perfect track to start off the album.
- Yechadsheihu – Composed by Simcha Jacoby this next song is a ballad-turned-midtempo track based on the words we say on Shabbos Hamevorchim. This is a very fitting tune to such a special Tefillah. Featured on this track is an additional vocalist Rabbi Joel Pomerantz whose vocals definitely blend well with Yehuda!’s
- Rak Lekayeim Mitzvos – With the last few years of amazing anthem style songs (Think Yesh Tikva, or Am Echad), Yehuda! Brings his own anthem to the table. And I have a feeling this one will hit just as hard as many of the others. This is an exciting composition by none other than Avraham Tzvi Klein.
- Veha’arev – Composed by Eli Woznica this next track is a perfect representation of the classic Yehuda! Ballads through the years. Although his last released album was about 9 years ago, Yehuda! Certainly hasn’t lost any of his talent. His vocals still shine and his productions are still at the top of their game. This track also features child soloist Daniel Cik who enhances the song greatly.
- Chazu – This next track composed by Mendy Fisch has undergone some major arrangement changes from the first time I heard this composition from Mendy himself. Needless to say, Yehuda injects his custom flavor into every note!
- Tzur Yisroel – If you were hoping for another composition by Avraham Tzvi Klein, this next track is sure to cover that need. Yehuda!’s soulful vocals soar as the song builds up to it’s final bar, I know I wrote this before but Yehuda!’s still got it!!!
- Kavei – With the inclusion of electronic music elements throughout contemporary Jewish music, the good old “disco” seems to have been forgotten. Yehuda! Brings back the style that kept us dancing through the second weddings dances with an inclusion of contemporary so that the classic and current styles blend together perfectly. KEep an ear out for the percussion in this song, there are some amazing grooves to listen for.
- Aleinu – You may recognize this next song composed by Eli Woznica from the Yoni Stern album where he performed this track with the singing group ABD. Yehuda!’s version definitely showcases an extremely sweet vocal.
- Hamelech – Middle East here we come! This next track composed by Yitzchok Levine gives us a Sefardi feel with the choice of percussion and string choices. I greatly appreciate that Yehuda! sings with the hava’arah that he is used to instead of going with the Sefardit ha’avara. While I think there is a time and place for singers to sing in that way, Yehuda! Clearly shows us that one can sing without it on a track of this style and he clearly knocks this one out of the park vocally.
- Koleinu – This next track comes to us courtesy of composer Uri Kestenbaum. While there may be a number of ballads on the album so far, this one is a welcome addition. At about 2:50 in the track comes one of the wildest mandolin solo’s I’ve ever heard in a ballad.
- Eidosecha – I was extremely privileged to be one of the engineers (and singers) involved in the AKA Pella and Friends album. This track was one of the ones featured on that album which gave me the opportunity to hear it in advance. As a fan of Yehuda! And as a fan of compositions by Yossi Muller, I believe this is a perfect shidduch between composer and singer. This song sounds like it must have been written for Yehuda! If it wasn’t, he’s definitely lucky some other singer didn’t grab it from Yossi first!
- Dayeinu – When trying to find the perfect song to end off an album (especially one of this caliber) I don’t think it get’s much easier than picking a track with the title “Dayeinu”. This final song composed by Mendy Fisch and featuring lyrics by Zale Newman this is one powerful song all about how thankful we are to have Eretz Yisrael.
Obviously from reading my review you can see I am a huge fan of this album and I definitely recommend it to all! If you’re jumping on the Yehuda! Bandwagon late, you may find yourself buying the rest of his past albums after finishing listening to this one!