Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shalsheles Volume IV Review

Since Volume 3 started with a slow song – Gadlu – I was expecting this album to start with a very energetic song like Shalsheles Junior’s great Modeh Ani. Instead, the album starts with Hiney, a very singable and mellow song that's not amazing. This is a decent composition but it’s not good enough for a first song. ***

After a slippery start, comes Keil Hakovod with a Ron Tichon arrangement. This is a very good song, in the line of Shalsheles Junior's Ilu, but not very energetic. Although it does have a rock sound, the second part “Boruch Yochid” is slow, so this song comes short as an energetic fast song, which probably all of us were expecting. Other than that, it’s a good song. ****

Kulam one of the best songs of this albums and it reminds us what Shalsheles is all about. The song is original – I doesn’t reminds me of any other Shalsheles song – and it’s pleasant to hear and sing along. This songs joins Ekrah, Shma and Ani Ma’amin in the Shalsheles Slow Songs Hall of Fame. Y. Lamm uses some cool dissonant chords at the end of the second part of this song (1:52), keeping the song interesting. The choir here is more solid and upbeat than usual, check 2:32, and there’s a cool “bridge” half-way in the song. The “off-beat” background choir in the last two minutes is breathtaking, it’s one of the things Shalsheles does best.*****

Shir Hamalos was borrowed from Yaakov Young’s album and I already reviewed it. It’s a great song but I prefer Young’s version because his voice is better than all three Shalsheles guys together (no offense). But what I can’t understand is why they stuck in another slow song right after Kulam. At this point we have four songs but none of them are energetic – that’s a major issue, and I wonder where are the fast songs?

Then we have Yofyafisa, a song with very interesting lyrics (only Y. Rosenthal could make it into a song) that I first heard a few weeks ago in Shlager’s website. This is my favorite song in the album, probably because the lyrics seem to fit perfectly to the tune, something rather rare in our days. The tune is simple, and they did the right thing to choose Ron Tichon over Lamm to arrange this one. Lamm is good for a tune like Kulam but Tichon is better for an exquisite tune like this one. *****

Finally, a fast song – Chasdei. It starts with a Chassidish choir, but the song has nothing really Chassidish to it. This is a very boring freilach song (all we hear is Olam Chesed Yiboneh over and over) and Lamm’s arrangement is very confusing. After 6 tracks we don’t have one decent fast song – very disappointing. *

Va’ani is another great slow song, but it’s not interesting enough to last for 6 plus minutes. ****

Ashrei Hoom is the first great fast song (it’s about time) of this album and it’s catchy and original. It’s possible to sing this song in low or high key, so the singers keep switching keys both for the first and second parts of this song. This song has a lot of word repetition, like Shalsheles Junior’s Mode Ani, but it somehow works out. This song should’ve been featured earlier in the album. ****

Lecha Dodi is a cute singable ballad, that could be sung in Shul on Shabbos night. Y. Rosenthal already has in his portfolio other singable shabbos songs like Shalom Aleichem, Magen Avos, Momkomcho (all featured in Rozo d’Shabbos) so now he has only left Keil Adon and Hu Elokeinu for future compositions! ***

Gam Ki Elech
first and second parts are amazing, but the last part suddenly shifts to Kumzits-style music. In Shalsheles 1 we had a similar concept in the song Shimu, which never became a hit. I’m afraid the same will happen to this song. ***

There’s nothing special in Od Yishama, but hey, it’s a fast song. ***

As I stated there are too few good fast songs and this album does gets boring, specially considering that all songs Lamm arranged are over 6 mins. Although the slow songs are up to Shalsheles previous albums this project as a whole is not. An album has to be exciting and have an acceptable level of energy, and that’s not the case here. If only they would’ve organized the songs in a better way… as it is two decent fast songs are featured late in the album.

My theory is that Yizthok Rosenthal gave over his best fast hits to Shalsheles Junior (Mode Ani) and Yaakov Young (Gal Gal, Torah, Ashira), and was left with few fast songs for the actual Shalsheles album. If these songs were kept for Shalsheles, Volume 4 would certainly be a blockbuster. Personally, I’m a Shalsheles fan and I’m happy to pay for an album full with Rosenthal’s slow songs, but I have a feeling this Shalsheles will not sell too well for the general public.


Anonymous said...

Good review. Kulam and Yofyafisa are also my favorite tracks. I do disagree a little on shir hamaalos. I think this version is much better than youngs. The harmonies are really nice. In general any rosenthal cd is better than much of the other music put out nowadays!

YK said...


Shir hamaalos in Young's album was arranged by Lamm, so they used Tichon for the new version. He did a good job, but I find that the Shalsheles soloists don't have the best voices - they're just great as a group. Young is a great singer, and he was the first one to sing it.. but I can see some people liking Tichon's arrangement, since it's more modern.



dudu said...

i think its undisputed that their first album was the best. this album does have good songs, but not hits like ekrah and eso einai

Anonymous said...

Got an opinion on the lipa ban? A gabay review? Where have you been?

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Anonymous said...

I know this is a late comment, but I just felt that I needed to point this out. Torah (Track 5 on Yogati) was composed by Yitzy Waldner. You may have meant M'chalkeil.

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