Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bari Weber's Ben Melech Review

Yachad has a fabulous arrangement, that’s caries this song further. It masks the fact that the song is actually weak - just another Hebrew kumbaya JM song about Achdut, which is the latest must have song in every album. And like Shiru Lamelech-style, which was also being recycled in every album in the early 2000’s, this will pass too. ***

Vashen has Lipa’s blueprint all over, both in the vocal style and in the song theme. I’m guessing Lipa gave one his weaker songs to Weber - not really a home run, and to put it as a second song it makes me feel like Weber is too busy trying to emulate others rather than breaking his own new ground. **

Veshomri - passable and I don’t see a connection between the song and the words at all. In other words, a sound I’ve heard so often, with words that don’t add anything to the song. Towards the end (3:20) it does get more connected to Shabbos, but it’s just a bridge and it’s too little to late. **

Lemikdosheich is clearly intended to be a Zemiros style song, and although Weber’s vocals are great, this song doesn’t stand out in any way. I’m negatively surprised about this one, I wouldn’t imagine he would go for such a weak song. The previous songs had flaws too, but this one is a nadir. *

Shehakol is a great song! Weber, the composer, takes a risk, because the lyrics are so simple and everyday-ish - Shehakol Neye Bedvoroi, but the risk pays off. The song’s opening is amazing - a folksy accordion intro - and shortly the actual song. It’s simple, out of the box and fun. What else can I ask for? However this song should’t cross the 3:50/4:00 mark and it does, becoming too long. If not for that, it would be a perfect song. ****

Tuisse - a very powerful, Selichot-style, song. It didn’t click with me, probably because it’s too mellow but I loved the improv t 2:50, when Bari tells us a story right in the middle of the song, and also the falsetto at 4:30. Without a doubt, Bari has one of the best vocals out there today ****

As the album gets towards this points, it’s clearly gaining momentum as Bari shifts more towards his style - Both Tuisse and V’atu are composed by Bari. V’atu is a simple yet modern song, reminding me of Yoely Greenfield because of the Heimish feel. At 1:55 Bari’s vocals shine again, with interesting dissonant notes that are rare in JM. But the song gets too long, it should’ve been under 3mins. ****

Next is a kumzits song, Nigun Lev. Traditionally these kind of songs are forgettable and this is no exception (Benny Friedman’s niggun in his 1st album IS one of the exceptions). This nigun is tasteful though, just not original enough. And 5:29 minutes length is just insanely long for this song, it’s unjustifiable. **

Heiliger’s arrangement, like most in this album, is great and contemporary. In fact, what stands out in this album, more than the songs, are the arrangements. So I need to give credit where credit is due. But like many of the previous songs, the song is weak however this is Bari’s comfort zone and that’s what he likes to sing. ***

Ben Melech is the album’s title song, and it’s a trademark Bari song - heartfelt, heimish and lots of niggunim. Not really singable for most of us, but I thought it was ok as a niggun - better than Niggun Lev. There also words but they are just fillers for the niggun. This will never be a hit song, but it’s a nice experiment. But no experiment can be 7 minutes long - again too long. ****

V’afili - brings nothing new to the album - in the same level of the other heimish songs. ***

This is not really my style of album. I love Yoely Greenfeld and I was hoping this would be as good, but although Bari’s vocals are excellent and the production value here is way above average, overall I think the songs of this album are average at best.