Wednesday, November 05, 2003

New Belzer Recording

I just heard the new Belzer recording Tzama L'cho Nafshi.

The songs are mostly composed by Eliyahu Eisenbach who is new to me, and not by longtime Belz composer Yimiya Damen who sings on the album, or Shlomo Kalish, who composed some of their recent hits. (Kalish composed one song on the album, a march, and his son composed one as well.)

I think two of the upbeat dance songs, Avinu and V'ahavoscha, may become popular.

The arrangements were done by Ruvi Banet, who did a nice job on Lipa Shmeltzer's albums. Here though, I think the arrangements fail. The intros bear no relationship to the songs, and there are too many rock and pop influences for what should be a straight-ahead chassidish album. Very unimpressive. The gratuitous rock grooves the album often goes into on fast songs adds nothing to the songs, and in my opinion, takes away from them.

The musicians are the flavor-of-the-month Israeli session musicians that all of the Brooklyn artists have been using on their albums, Aryeh Volnitz, Yaron Gottfried, Avi Singolda, and the rest. These guys have chops, but the music is very sterile and there's no feeling there.

The last Belz recording also had arranged music that detracted from the songs. (The earlier albums are all the old Chassidish style of having the vocalists and melody instruments all play the melody all of the time. It's not sophisticated, but it works.) This album is much more offensive, though. The melodies and arrangements just don't work. Instead of a heartzig chassidish album, the effect is a bad Brooklyn Jewish pop album with Chassidish vocals. I hope that the producers reconsider their arrangement choices for the next one, and stick with more traditional feels. I think that there is plenty of room for contemporary influences even in traditional style arrangements, but they should only be included in the service of the song.

Finally, what is it with the child soloists? Why do so many JM producers feel the need to put child soloists on their albums? This kid sings well enough, but his inclusion appears to be gratuitious.