Emes (Shloime Kaufman & co.)
Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music.com
Alright, everyone, I'm finally gonna write my long-awaited review of "EMES". I'm actually sitting on the city bus on my way to work, and at least I'll spend my 40-minute commute productively. Incidentally, I'm the only passenger on this bus, so I made myself all comfortable, took off my jacket, Mailstation on my lap, and listening to music :)
Emes is not just another one of those cd's put together by a group of yeshiva guys, although it may seem so at first glance. Although it is the combined effort of a group of friends, in this case, the result was ultra professional. It is far from a sub-par type of cd. On the contrary, the talents each of the friends bring to the album only enhance it. And for a change, it's not another production of expensive songs bought off from the same composers, played by the same musicians and arranged by the usual arranger, resulting in another typical sounding tape. It's all done by the Emes "Band". When the person or people singing on the album are involved with the production details and music details to the fullest, the results are amazing, as we've seen with cds like Lev Tahor and have yet to see with Lishioscho Kivini, etc. So, this album is again, "different", self-produced, composed, played, arranged, and tweaked. It feels more wholesome, more genuine.
Before I begin analyzing the songs, I must say a word about the vocals. I am really, really impressed by Shloime's voice. (It reminds me a LOT of Ari Cukier's, and that's a big compliment!) It's soft, soothing, and smooth. He doesnt have a crazy range, but a really excellent melody voice. (He does hit the high notes easily.) The backup vocals really enhance the melody, and I'm sorry I can't tell who's who, but I know that Shmuel Ziegler the drummer did some of them. Speaking of the drummer, the drums on this cd are truly outstanding. Kudos.
Oh no. There goes my grand plan. My discman batteries are dying!! I totally forgot to bring along another set :-\. Okay, let's see how much I can construct now from memory, and I'll do the rest later at home.
1. Od Yishoma, composed by Yitzy Bald, and Shloime dedicates it to his brother, sister, brother-iin-law and sister-in-law. I like this song a lot. It's one of my favorites on the album. I think it was the first song I heard of the album and I immediately liked it. It's mellow, smooth, and has great harmonies. It's semi-fast; not too fast yet not a hora. It features some great saxophone too. I rate this song a 10.
2. V'Ashiva, composed by Shmuel Rosenberg. A slow song, this falls more under the typical category, but it's sung with real heartz. It is one of those songs that you somehow think you've heard already somewhere. I also noted that Shloime has a propensity to sing his shvas as chiriks (Vee'oshiva instead of V'Ashiva, BeeMishpot instead of B'Mishpot, KeeVorishona instead of K'Vorishona), and that kinda gets me nervous because it comes across as a little unprofessional. But all in all it's a very nice song, the kind you want to listen to again. I'll rate it a 7.
3. Modeh Ani, composed by Yaakov Majeski. Hmmmm, is that Yaakov Majesky formerly of MBC, from the talented Majesky family? I wonder. Anyway, this song is basically the foudation of Emes, there's a whole story behind it which I'll let you read about in the music magazines like Country Yossi :-). The song starts off with very clever guitar play. Once again this song falls into the semi-fast semi-hora category. It has some great harmonies and backup vocals. I enjoy this song a lot. It's a very singable and cute song. Also one of my favorites on the album, I rate it a 10.
4. L'shem shomayim, composed by Yossie Newman. Now, this is a confusing song. It's another slow one, and it also has the Veeeee phenomenon (Veeeetzidkosom vs. V'Tzidkosom, Zeechus instead of Zchus). I don't like the low part... it's waaaaaay too low and seems to be going nowhere, but when the high part starts, the song becomes beautiful. Really relaxing and sung with a lot of heart. I'll rate it another 7.
Okay my batteries are BH working again, let's move on to song 5.
5. S'u Shearim, composed by Meir "Mark" Kaufman. This is a real "old school style" song, and I like it a lot. It starts off with some really cool clarinet bars, and the drums are really excellent. There is a child soloist at the beginning, Zev Kaufman, who is apparently not related to Shloime (anyone know who he is?). Interestingly enough, the song is nothing majorly special, very predictable, yet I really like it. It's virtually the only really fast song on the album (besides for song 9, which is also pretty fast). I'll rate it a 9.
6. Emes, composed by Yossie Newman. Another one of my favorites, which I guess can be classified under what I think should be coined the "EMES" tempo (semi-fast semi-hora) although I think this one happens to be more of a full-bodied hora. The first time my mother heard the song on Al Gordon, she commented on how fast the words were sung! I think this is a very clever and creative song. The words fit in so cleverly into the tune. "Emes, Emes-Ashrei-Ish, Sheyishma, Ashrei-Ish-Sheyishma -- pause -- L'mitzvosechaaa...." cool. It's certainly something different, something I don't think I've heard before. This song rates another full 10.
Okay I'm about a minute away from my destination, time to put on my jacket and stash away my stuff; I will write about songs 7, 8 and 9 on the way home. **
Well, here I am on the train at 5:15 pm, homeward bound.... let's see if I can do songs 7, 8 and 9 in the next fifteen minutes :) (the train ride is way shorter).
7. Shavas Aniyim, composed by Yossie Newman. One of the former members of this group told me it reminded her of some song I am not familiar with. I will have to ask her again. Another nice slow, soothing, relaxing song. I'll rate it a 6.
8. Yigdal, composed by Baruch Levine, who in my opinion is an excellent and very underrated composer. I think he composed for Dovidovid as well. This song happens to be my favorite slow song on the album. Recently, it's gotten plenty of airplay on Nachum Segal's shows, which it well deserves. Moishe Kaufman is a soloist on this song, and I gather that he is a relative of Shloime's, maybe his brother. In any event, it's a beautiful song and done very well. It's a slow song (I don't quite get why there are two slow songs one after the other or why this song is so far in the tape) but a really pretty and soulful one. I'll rate it a 10.
9. Aseh, composed by Yossie Newman. Another semi-fast song, but more fast than hora. A soloist on this song is Avram Zamist, who is known by quite a couple of people in this group. It's a nice song, not my favorite, but a great way to end the tape on an upbeat note. Rate this a 6.
If you add up the points, this tape rates a 75 out of 90, not bad!
In summary, Emes is a great CD which I really enjoyed. It falls more under the category of slow to medium paced songs with only one or two really fast songs. It offers relaxing and mellow kind of music and is the result of a creative effort of a group of friends with wonderful results. Get your copy today, and enjoy!
(Okay, here I am, at my destination.... home sweet home! Thank you, Emes, for making my commute more interesting today :))
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