Review of Ari Goldwag’s A Capella Soul

That difficult time (well one of them) for us music lovers is winding down, and this is the hardest part. If you’re like me, even having a good 5 or 6 quality acapella albums won’t last you through the sefira when during the year you are used to having dozens to chose from. Thankfully, Ari Goldwag has released a great new album, “A Cappella Soul” that will surely help you out.

This album is a combination of Sheves Achim, Sheves Chaverim, and mostly Ari Goldwag. He does all of the backup “music” (I think) and also does all of the main vocals on 5/13 songs. He has a beautiful voice and I personally think that his talent is very underrated. He is constantly coming out with new music and you can hear the simchas hachaim in his voice. A Cappella Soul showcases the variety of music he composes, ranging from heartwrenching Shabbos zemiros to cute kids’ English songs to niggunim and dance songs. He does it all. Although I had heard some of the songs before, I was still very impressed by his beatboxing/music imitation skills. That’s not an easy thing to do, even for most musicians.

Something I will disclose about the album is that the songs that feature Sheves Chaverim and Sheves Achim are basically acapella remakes– the vocals from the CD are mixed with Ari Goldwag’s “music”. When I realized this, and the fact that I already had many of the songs in one version or another, I honestly debated getting the album at all. Baruch Hashem I did, because it’s been a staple for me this sefira. I am blown away by the quality.

The mix of songs is very good, but I would have preferred slightly different. First of all, Sheves Achim is underrepresented here. They are incredible but only made it to 2/13 songs, while Sheves Chaverim is on 5/13 — and remember, Sheves Achim had two albums while Sheves Chaverim has, so far, had one. I would have loved Avraham Yagel or maybe Shema Hashem to be on here. But ok, that being said, it’s still a great mix…

1. Naya Niggun

Ari Goldwag counts down “1-2-3” to get the album started. I believe this track is new for him. Most readers know that I am not generally a fan of niggunim, and so this is not one of my favorites on the album. It is a fun way to start the album and right away we know that it’s going to be quality, if the “music” and vocals here are any indication.

2. Mi She’ana

This beautiful slow song was on the Sheves Chaverim album. Of all the songs on the album, iTunes says I’ve listened to this one the most. I prefer fast songs generally, so that says a lot. The vocals here are incredible (particularly Yair Frohlich, with an unusual and beautiful voice)  and at 6:07, I wish it went on longer. The tune is unique, and unlike most songs turned acapella, I don’t feel like this song lost anything at all. I could listen to it over and over.

3. Sha’arei Shamayim

Another song from Sheves Chaverim, this was a techno hit from the album. It’s a catchy driving tune that will wake you up amongst a lot of the relaxing acapella songs out there. Although this a good song, I don’t feel like it was the best choice to be turned into acapella. It feels a little empty. I would have recommended, if another fast song was necessary, Ashreinu from Sheves Achim or maybe Borei from Sheves Chaverim.

4. Ki Nicham

This is the second song sung by Ari Goldwag and it’s a beautiful one. This song, of all of them, best showcases his amazing voice and range. It is heartfelt and real, and, through him, it’s easy to connect to the words.

5. Finally Here

Yet another song from Sheves Chaverim, based on all the kids I know, this was the biggest hit on the album. When I first heard it, I thought it was a bit cheesy. The truth is, the verses are a little bit cheesy, but still good, and the chorus is incredible. The message is all too real. For those of you who don’t know, it’s about how we aren’t really waiting for Moshiach because we’re occupied with things that aren’t the most ruchniasdik.

6. Kah Ribon

This is the most beautiful Kah Ribon out there, and I say that without reservation. My good friend walked down to this recently, and when I heard she chose it, it made me really have a good listen. It’s beautiful and emotional and everything else good you could want in a song. I think that it might actually be better in a cappella form because it makes you really listen to the vocals and the words. I listen to this at work, and its a nice piece of Shabbos in the middle of the week.

7. Ki Aielecha

Another Sheves Chaverim song, and this one is laid-back but catchy and fun to listen to. Something unique about Ari Goldwag’s style with both boys groups is that, while he takes advantage of the opportunity to create really neat harmonies, he primarily sticks with solos and lets each unique voice shine. You can see that here with most of the boys getting their own long solo.

8. The Artist

Finally, a Sheves Achim song! Well, sorta. This song was on Sheves Achim 2, but here is sung by Ari Goldwag but what sounds like original Sheves Achim backup. It’s a great song that can bring me to tears even on the subway on the way to work. It works really well in acapella version here, and of course Ari Goldwags’ voice is a neat addition.

9. Kel Adon

Wow, this song will wake you up after a bunch of laid back and mostly slow songs. It sounds like Ari Goldwag must be dancing down the streets of Yerushalayim while singing this song. It’s super upbeat and fun and will put you in a good mood. I wish this song were longer because I listen to it a lot!

10. Superman

This is the first song that is really a Sheves Achim song. The vocals are taken from the first Sheves Achim album. It’s an English song about a little boy who dreams of being Superman and ends up moving to Israel where, in Kollel, he’s his family’s superman. Aww. It’s a great story. In the last choruses, Ari Goldwag joins in with each of the Sheves Achim boys, which I believe is unique to this album (though I can’t be sure, since I can’t listen to the original version), but regardless I really like that aspect. This is a very sweet story and a sweet song.

11. Ogil

I believe I had this acapella version of Sheves Achim’s Ogil before I had the regular album! It’s a good song to drive to and to sing along to and just enjoyable all around.

12. Aleinu

This song has also been previously released in acapella version so I’ve been enjoying it for quite some time. It’s a beautiful, heart-warming duet by father and son, Moshe Dov. His voice is adorable and innocent, yet he seems to have the control of a kid much older than he is. There is nothing more beautiful to me than a father and son singing together– did I mention I come from a family of all girls— and this song is a perfect example.

13. Hashem Loves You

The album ends with a smile with Sheves Chaverim’s Hashem Loves You. Ari Goldwag just released a video for this (where can we get those stickers?). It’s a laid back summery feel-good song about how no matter what happens, Hashem always loves you.


Enjoy, everyone. Happy listening.

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