by Reb Akiva
Ari Goldwag is a pop-Orthodox-Jewish music singer. His latest album, release today, was a Kickstarter financed project. This caught my attention as a new economic model for Jewish music, and I was interested to see if it would succeed and how the quality would be without a traditional music industry infrastructure wrapped around it.
As a donor to the campaign, I received a e-copy of the album and donated more than the retail price. Here’s my review:
Am Echad (One Nation) is a modern pop style Orthodox Jewish album. (Orthodox Jewish album means most of the songs are sung in Hebrew, the topic of the lyrics are Jewish themes and often include biblical lines, and the beats never get too dark or heavy.) The artist, Ari Goldwag, has a sweet and smooth tone and the music is well matched to his tone.
The album has a fully professional sound, and to my (admittedly amateur) ear is no different in quality than any other modern CD I’ve purchased. There is a moderate use of electronic backgrounds together with good drum and guitar sounds, overall a very smooth pleasing sound. A few tracks have backup singers that are well done, and two tracks have boy singers for parts of those songs (less well done).
With 13 tracks, it’s a nice sized music set for the price. Buy it here at Amazon.com for $8.99. Each track review below is linked for a trial and/or direct track buy.
Track 1 – Am Echad (One Nation)
A rousing fast track with a nice sound and lyrics. Nice beat, moderate background, great drive time music or wedding dance music. Inspiring lyrics. One of my favorites on the album and a possible hit. Check it out here, and noting someone put up an early copy on Youtube that doesn’t seem as well mixed as the final released.
A sweet sounding medium speed story telling track with a beat, nice guitar and some strong asides. Enjoyable, very listenable.
Track 3 – Min HaMeitzar (From the Depths)
Slow track with some trumpet and either another singer or the artist recording in two different keys. Going for that deep feeling thing with moderate highs. It’s ok, but a miss for me.
Track 4 – Rak Hu (Only Him)
Cool electronic start, sweet voice sound with great highs, picks up a nice beat with background depths that emphasize the singing. This is the winner of the album, a great song! If you don’t buy the album, buy this song!
Track 5 – Say the Words
English lyrics, piano ballad with soft singing and nice highs. I’m not really into it, maybe you will be.
Track 6 – Nodeh (Thank/Appreciate You)
One of the trends in Jewish (religious) music has been the incorporation of boy singers. This is such a song. Fast paced with part sung by the boys (two boys) and part by the artist with a bit of an Israeli style mizrachi feel or perhaps South American music feel. For me the boy’s voices are a too high pitched, particularly the 2nd boy, and that ruins this song for me. Also it seems the voices are a touch edited or run through vocoder? I’m not sure, the choruses sound fine, the singing a bit clipped or something. Not my favorite.
Track 7 – Menucha vSimcha (Rest and Joy)
Slow song, somewhat of an older style traditional Jewish religious song, with strong depths and choruses – the kind of thing we’ve heard many times from Avraham Fried and Mordechai Ben David 15 years ago.
Track 8 – Gam Ki Elech (Even as I Go)
Moderated paced pop style song with the artist singing high. Part Hebrew part English, mixed nicely. Not bad.
Track 9 – Yosef (Joseph)
English ballad story telling song about Yosef HaTzadik, the biblical Joseph son of Jacob. Nice highs by the artist.
Track 10 – Min HaOlam (From the World)
Fast paced with the boy singers for the first half of the song. A bit rock-y, a bit electronic. I think the boys voices get drowned by the beat. The second half of the song has adult singers and is better for it.
Track 11 – Change
Slow song, big band opening, oh that trumpet sound. A story/message song in English. Get the feeling! (The artist is trying to reach you through his feeling in the singing.) I didn’t get the feeling.
Track 12 – I’m Imperfect
Another English story or message song. A bit of a funky background sound and sung to the beat. For me it works.
Track 13 – Hashem is Always There
A fun sound and moderate beat, another English story / message song. The beat, tone and background singers make this one fun. I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed the album and added two of the tracks to my best-Jewish-music playlist. At $8.99 for download on Amazon (click here), I think it’s a nice deal for an enjoyable album. It’s a nice edition to my Jewish music library.