The Chevra 2
Artist’s web site: thechevra.com
Album can be previewed/purchased at the site
Ok, so after, no so little consideration I decided to take
the plunge and write my own review. I'm surprised that with so much
discussion that no one has written a review of Chevra 2. So, since
it's one of my favorite albums, I figured I'd give it a shot.
First of all, for those who were fans of the first Chevra
album, you might be a little disappointed with the sequel because it
is far less "goyish" and less "techno-ish," which, IMHO, makes for a
far superior album. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the first
album, but this one is much more my style.
Secondly, all the reviews that I've seen have not included
ratings below a 5, so who am I to abandon the system. As such, the
ratings will go from 5-10.
Also, I will be attempting to assign names to the voices and it's
highly likely that I will be wrong, so I'm requesting mechila in
advance. Now, onto the songs.
1. Lecha: I'm under the impression that this song is supposed to be
the "Yehei" of this particular album. Now, as not a huge "Yehei"
fan myself, I can say that Mr. Gerstner succeeded. I do enjoy this
song very much; it's definitely one of the better fast songs, but I
would not call it 10 worthy. There are a few quirky things in this
song that caught my attention; the opening of the song is a vibrant
a capella short, that immediately grabs your attention. This is
awesome. Another part that I liked is the second time through the
song, before the low part, sung, I believe, by David, has a few
arhythmic nah-nah-nahs, which were pretty cool. And then there is a
solid modulation a few seconds later. The end is also pretty neat
when all the singers come together for a final "neitzach v'hahod,"
which echoes out into silence. Definitely a great way to start the
album, and I give it a solid 8.5.
2. Shalom: Before reviewing this song. Let's just say that I'm a
big fan of slow songs, and Menucha is my favorite album. Good. The
slow songs on the album are fantastic. This song, which is
excellent, is either my second or third favorite of the slow ones,
which is only to Eli's credit that the other two are that much
better. This song definitely gets points for originality; the
words "Esht'cha k'gefen poriyah b'yark'sei beisecha…," are beautiful
and seldom used. The high part, "Shalom al Yisrael," almost makes
you believe that we really are at peace. They keep repeating the
word "shalom" so many times, but it doesn't seem repetitive as one
would think. The harmonies that they use for the high part, which
change for each refrain, are excellent. After a few run-throughs
the high part changes into a short bridge section ending with a
beautiful part by Avi singing "Yisra-eh-eh-eh-ehl!" And right
after that, Eli does one of his little shticks, in which the music
stops entirely for a second and then we hit the singing again. This
song really does it for me, so I give it a 9.
3. Mi Zeh: Just to remind everyone that we are indeed listening to
the Chevra, Eli tosses in an upbeat techno piece. Those of you who
are into techno will love it. I don't have strong feelings about
techno in either direction, but even so, this is my least favorite
song on the album. This song would be the equivalent of, say,
Vayiten B'fi from the first album. The only thing that keeps it
from receiving my lowest rating is after the second time through the
song, the singers go back to the nah-nahs that began the song, and
then, in true Gerstner style, he does that little crescendo where
the nah-nahs start off a little above a whisper and rise in volume
until they go back to the high part, "Se-u shearim." If you don't
understand what I mean, it's very similar to the very end
of "Tehilas Hashem," on the Yeshiva Boys Choir Album. I think those
quirks are really cool. So, this song rates a 6 with me.
4. Odcha: This is my absolute favorite song on the album. Even
after getting the album 6 months ago, I still listen to this song
every time I sit down at my computer. Eli makes his standard cameo
appearance as he does in Mi Bon Siach on the first album, and as he
does in V'hu on YBC and Ovinu on Menucha. And, believe it or not,
this song is so nicely done with the harmonies that I'd like it even
more if we could hear the Chevra the whole time, and not have Eli
the first time around. The words are beautiful, "Odcha Hashem
Elokai b'chol levavi, va'achavda shimcha l'olam." One can really
feel as if the singers really are praising G-d with all their hearts
and will honor his name forever. Every time I hear the second high
part, it almost breaks my heart. After a short modulation, Avi
goes up for an extended "Eeeee-lokai-ai-ai" followed by Dovid
singing "b'chol levavi" beautifully. I'd pay full price for an
album for just this single. This one gets a yasher koach and a big
5. Va'ani: This is a really cute song with that little bit of
middle eastern tinge. There's also this great shtick that Eli
writes into the song which I think is fabulous. The first time
through the song, the singers use an ashkenazi accent, i.e. "yagel
libi bishuosecha." The second time through they use a sephardic
accent, i.e. "yagel libi bishuatecha," with more nasal sounds and
more israeli lameds and reishes. I hope you know what I mean. I
rate this song a 9.
6. Es Panecha: This song is one of those not too fast, not too slow
ones, the equivalent of Shoma Hashem from the first album. I really
like this one. I'm not really sure why, but it's like your favorite
sports team, or your spouse; you just love them. Sorry, I wasn't so
much help on this one, it's just that it doesn't have any
outstanding characteristics, it's just a solid song. It gets a 9
7. Samachti: At first I thought this song was another one of those
generic techno songs, and I began skipping it whenever I came to
it. However, I recently gained a new appreciation for it. Each
time we get to the high part, "Omdos hoyu ragleinu," it gets me
pumped, especially when they do a neat modulation later in the
song. Towards the end, Dovid does a cool set of nah-nahs, which go
really high, and this is followed by a final "Omdos hayu" part with
only percussion in the background. This one gets an 8.5.
8. Hashem: This is my least favorite slow song on the album, but
it's still a pretty good song. Eli's choice of words was
unexpected, "Hashem yishmorcha mikol ra, yishmore es nafshecha.
B'yado afkeed ruchi b'eis ishan v'a'ira, v'im ruchi geviyasi, Hashem
li v'lo ira." The little boy who starts off the song is very good.
The high part tends to get screechy at times, but it's still
impressive how Dovid goes so extremely high. I also think the song
is too drawn out and the parts are repeated too many times. Still a
good song, so it gets a 7.5.
9. Invei: Recent albums have all had the requisite wedding song,
usually Mi Adir, Mi Bon Siach, or Meheirah. Invei fills the role of
the wedding song, but with a little bit of Eli's techno style. The
beginning of the song reminds me of what a club would sound like.
The song is pretty standard, but it has a few interesting quirks.
Since the words go "Invei hagefen v'invey hagefen," it makes for
good harmony. Not too much else to say about this one, but it's
pretty good. I give it an 8.
10. Yehi Hashem: This is a really interesting song, and I think I
like it a lot. It starts off with nah-nahs done a capella style,
which is really nice. You can really hear the meaning behind the
words as well, especially when they sing the high part, "Al
ya'azveinu v'al yitsheinu." After two run-throughs, they do the nah-
nah's again, and then Eli changes the tune around entirely leading
into different nah-nah's which are really awesome. These finally
lead into one more set of "Al ya'azveinu." The end of the song
could use a little work, but I still really like it. Another 9.
So, there you have it. I hope you all enjoy the review, and I
really want to get some feedback. Thanks for reading.