JTopBlogger’s Review of Lipa Schmeltzer: Leap of Faith

June 04, 2012 9 min read

Ah, it’s so great to be back on a public forum like JMR using my trusty quill and inkwell (I’m actually using a laptop but I’m feeling rather poetic at the moment)! As is clearly evident from the title of this article, I will be reviewing Lipa’s latest album which has been the source of much agony on the part of Kol Isha (one of the top guns at JMR) due to my incessant badgering via e-mail regarding the release date and subsequent availability of said album. Fortunately, for all parties both excitedly and reluctantly involved, the CD is finally here and I can make my invaluable opinions known to the general public. So… without further ado I give you:

Chatzoitzrois- This song starts off with what sounds like a shofar and a cluster of trumpets as per the title. It actually reminds me a tad of the Indiana Jones theme until a few measures later when the drums, string section and bass smoothly join in to propel the song into the catchy rock – themed disco that it is. Lipa composed the song with Moshe Laufer taking credit for the arrangements which continue to feature some interesting brass motifs throughout. Naftali Schnitzler arranged the choir but handed over the conducting rights to Moishy Kraus. This song’s got it all: simple yet catchy tune, great arrangements and of course, Lipa. That being the case it earns a rating of 8 out of 10 stars.

L’Olam- This song has a typical rock beat although the active bass and piano tracks suggest that the arranger (the one and only Mona Rosenblum) and composer (Lipa again) may have been leaning towards a 60’s Rock ‘n’ Roll/Twist feel. Naftali Schnitzler arranged the adult choir and Moishy Kraus conducted it as well as arranging the children’s choir. The song is about saying hello and I won’t even attempt to list the languages Lipa says it in (at the very end he even uses Street Slang: “Yo wassup bro”)! It has a decent tune, but when I finished listening to it my only comment was “Okaaaay….”.  One thing I enjoyed however was the aforementioned musical arrangements and in particular the very unique ending: a bit of Hawaiian slide guitar immediately followed by a rapidly descending blues scale on an organ (a keyboard sound).  7 out of 10 stars.

Yigdal- This song begins with what at first struck me as being a rather discordant introduction, owing to the non-standard notes for a minor scale contained within. Upon further review however, I’ve found that it’s a truly sui generis and resplendent piece. The same holds true for the song itself which is yet another Lipa composition. Moshe Laufer did the sweet and simple arrangements for this slow 4/4 and Lipa did the arrangements for and conducted the choir which features Yoeli Falkowitz, Sruly Green (Lipa’s nephew), Yoeli Greenfeld, and Beri Weber. I’ve heard the song dozens of times already and am still not sick of it which means that it earns an 8 out of 10 stars rating from me.

Kvodo- Pinky Weber is best known for his astonishingly gorgeous slow songs but every so often he thinks up an outstanding fast one as well. This techno style hora is without a doubt one of those. Arranged and programmed by Ruli Ezrachi it has an ultra-catchy beat and tune that gets me up and dancing in no time (that’s merely for explanatory purposes – I don’t dance)! This would’ve been a huge M.B.D. hit in his heyday and will most certainly be one for Lipa! I simply can’t get enough of the song and right now I will listen to it yet again. But before I do that, I’ll inform you that the adult choir, which features Yoeli Greenfeld and Tzali Gold, was expertly arranged by Lipa and the children’s choir was conducted by Moishy Kraus. There is also a purported child soloist by the name of Nissim Steinberg although I couldn’t hear him at all in the song. Ok, I gotta listen to it again now so the song gets 9.5 out of 10 stars.

Vayehi Binsoa- All right, I’m back at my computer. Well… Yossi Green has done it once again with this 4/4 ballad which has a decidedly orchestral flavor to it. I’ve always connected Naftali Schnitzler with “fake music”, i.e. programmed music. In no way do I intend to demean it (I’m a passionate keyboardist myself), but I’ve always viewed him as an arranger who prefers electronic means over acoustical. That just goes to show how much I know. Naftali arranged this song surprisingly well, with Gadi Seri occasionally adding in some orchestral timpani. Lipa arranged the choir which consists of Moishe Eisenberg, Beri Weber, Yoeli Falkowitz, and Yoeli Greenfeld. I love the way the song takes an unexpected twist in the high part yet when I think a little about it it’s actually pretty smooth. One thing I failed to understand was the lack of correlation between the lyrics and the tune. I also would’ve liked to hear more of the song. I think it ended a bit too early and would’ve benefited greatly from a key modulation. I also think – actually I know – that I’ve begun blabbing again. Soooo… the song gets a 9 out of 10 stars rating from me.

Hang up the Phone- As the title suggests this song is about a very serious issue which pervades today’s society. At any given time and in any given place chances are everyone around you is utilizing a telephonic device (at this time I’d like to render my deepest appreciation to M.B. for having put that utterly ridiculous phrase into my vocabulary).  Lipa also discusses other forms of technological distractions which only serve to detract from the user’s quality of Avodas Hashem and life in general. It has a very powerful and important message although I’m not particularly into the actual tune and lyrics, both of which were Lipa’s doing. The song was programmed by Nir Graf and Zohar “Baba” Buerger and also features the 2012 Junior Jewish Star Champion Dovid Moskovitz as an additional vocalist, although again, I wish I would actually have been able to hear him. I was quite surprised when at 2:34 in, the song suddenly switched to what sounded like a tune appropriate for a Rebbe’s tish. That and the telephonic synthesis of his voice not too long afterwards are all part of the shock value that epitomizes the undisputed king of Jewish entertainment, Lipa Schmeltzer. 6.5 out of 10 stars.

Vedabkeinu- This song features great arrangements by Meir Adler. It starts out with a standard disco beat and then switches briefly to light “silly” piano which is forcibly reminiscent of Lipa’s Useshuvo from the days of yore. But it instantly reverts back to a fast paced disco which is a clear indicator that the song is in essence a freilach. It does switch to an actual freilach beat in the 3rd section which is the part that really makes the song in my opinion. Yoeli Dikman conducted the band with Lipa arranging the choir and Zevi Fried conducting it, joined by Tzali Gold and Yossi Rubin. I’ll give you 3 guesses on who composed the song and the first 2 don’t count. 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Yeled Katan- Unless I’m sorely mistaken this is Lipa’s first Hebrew song and what a song it is! Composed and lyricized by Yishai Lapidot, this 6/8 rock ballad features Yishai in duet with Lipa as well as a choir of Ya’akov Rotblat, Sinai Barmatz, and Moti Rotler superbly arranged by Naftali Schnitzler. However the crowning jewel of the song is the musical arrangements done by Ruvi Banet. Although at times he can get carried away (like I frequently do with my articles), this song was perfectly arranged. There was neither a surplus nor a dearth of musical ingenuity even with the quirky E7(b5) chord at 1:06 in. I’m not sure whether the drummer was Avi Avidani, Asher Pedi, or Gal Gershovsky but in any case he did a fantastic job throughout the song.  My favorite part of this masterpiece is at the very end when Yishai gives it everything he’s got with an earthshattering “Ribono Shel Olam”. It sounds like he went off key but I believe it was done intentionally to display the abundance of soul and pathos in his voice. 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Leap of Faith- Well, JTopBlogger grudgingly admits defeat with regards to the classification of the style of music in this song. I can hear rap, pop, beat boxing, garage beat, and funky disco all wrapped together in one, but I can’t quite put a label on it. In short, it’s another one of Lipa’s wacky songs. The tune composed by Yossi Green, the music arranged by Ruvi Banet and the background vocals arranged by Lipa are all pretty formidable in their own unique ways. There is of course the obvious play on words (Lipa Faith) in the English lyrics which to my surprise were not authored by Lipa but by Moshe Leib Lax. Only the Yiddish lyrics were Lipa’s doing. Now, my dear readers, before I conclude my analysis of this song I have a word of warning for you. Please do not – I repeat do not – listen to this song while traveling across a bridge! Call me sick and twisted but every time I hear Lipa say “Jump!”, and “Everybody let’s jump!” starting at 3:52 in, I feel as if he’s purposely egging me on and truthfully, you can’t blame me one bit if you just take a look at the unsettling albeit hilarious artwork printed in the jacket cover (see below). Sorry, Lipa. That’s just how I feel. But all jokes aside this is a very fun song though it’s not something I can really picture being sung at a wedding. 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Rochel- M. Morgenstern composed this hartzige 4/4 ballad and Ruvi Banet arranged it; again with the perfect balance. Lipa really gives it all he’s got in this song and is supported by a self-arranged choir consisting of Shragee Gestetner, Shloime Daskal, and Sruly Green. The second time around, in the middle of the low part, the song modulates without warning to a higher key and then in the 3rd part launches into a powerful rock ballad. My only problem with this song is that it’s only played twice. I would’ve loved to hear more of it. Of course, I can just hit replay but frankly, it’s very close to Shabbos now and I want to finish the article already so I’ll proceed onward. 9 out of 10 stars.

Mizrach- Lipa sings about the four points on a compass: East, West, North, and South. I’ll be honest with you by saying that the tune and the words really didn’t grab me at all. I did however enjoy the sharp intake of breath that sounds as if he just surfaced from underwater at around 3 minutes in. I’m baffled as to what that has to do with the price of tea in China but hey, it’s Lipa. He’s done a lot stranger things so I won’t ask too many questions on this one. Yanky Katina has a guitar solo in the song and it really sounds like he’s using an amp that costs about as much as one of his guitar strings but obviously Naftali Schnitzler intended for it to sound that way. The whole song seems to have produced on a keyboard and as I said before that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I realize that it’s possible that the general audience that’s still persevering and reading this may not agree with my opinion of the song. As such it gets a slightly higher rating than what I believe it really should. 6 out of 10 stars.

Lipa’s Shul- I’m not sure how I survived living my whole life thus far on a predominately chassidish block in the heart of Monsey. No, I’m not trying to get kicked off this website for spouting politically incorrect statements. What I am trying to do is point out that although I know some Yiddish, I’m not fluent enough to be able to understand Lipa’s lyrics in this song. It’s obviously about his shul that’s currently being built in Airmont (right near Monsey) but I get the sense that it goes a lot deeper than that. Whatever the case is, he composed the song and wrote said lyrics and it does have a fairly nice tune. He’s joined by Tzali Gold for the background vocals. The music was arranged by Naftali Schnitzler who again did a good job. It’s has a 3/4 ballad although it sometimes sounds a bit swingy. Lipa chose 2 guest musicians to play on this track: the up and coming guitarist, Moishy Schwartz and Shimon Silberstein on the drums. 7 out of 10 stars.

Lipa stated in an interview with our very own SPLASHNEWS that his new CD would be a bit more toned down than usual. He has definitely made good on that promise. It seems as if he had a lower budget for this production than is the norm as is evident by the quality of the recording and the fact that he didn’t spend too much money on buying songs; they were mostly composed by him. Now I’ll admit that I have criticized this album a great deal. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it. If you forget the fact that this is a Lipa album for a second and just concentrate on the content you’ll realize: great songs and suitable arrangements equal a fantastic album, regardless of the artist. Lipa, you get 9 out of 10 stars from me! Keep up the good work! The cd is available for purchase and/or download at http://www.mostlymusic.com/leap-of-faith-emunah.html or at your local competent Judaica store. As always, please leave your questions, compliments, and criticisms in the comments section below. Keep an eye out for my reviews on Hasc 25 and Taussig 2, coming soon!