sheldon low disk 88 298.
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On 1 Foot
(Jewish Rock Records)
Sheldon Low has a busy summer ahead of him. He'll be playing gigs, leading services and running Jewish identity-bolstering workshops in summer camps across the US. At least he has completed his debut album.
Low's On 1 Foot doesn't break new creative ground, but it feels like the trendy pop-rock of today (a rarity in the Jewish music world), and its high-energy is infectious. His Dave Matthews Band-ish "Heveinu" (as in, "Heveinu shalom elekhem") should get the teens on their feet, even if this treatment isn't as iconic as Big Jim Slade's version.
"V'ahavta" evokes the phrasing of War's (or, for a younger frame of reference, Smashmouth's) "Why Can't We Be Friends," an appropriate inspiration for a tune about getting along. Although Foot does lose momentum in its midsection, the uppy highlights should be numerous and strong enough to carry pop-rock enthusiasts through. In between, though, are some intimate, acoustic gems, including "Mi Chamocha" and the closing "P'tach Libi," two duets with Tel Avivian Hadar Orshalimy.
Halev Boer Elekha
The new school of Breslov Hassidic music is dominated by Western styles like bar guitar rock (Adi Ran), punk-dub (ShinShinMem) and intimate folk rock (Yosef Karduner). But with so many budding Breslovers nowadays originating from families who came to Israel after having spent countless generations in Arab lands, it's surprising that Rebbe Nahman's teachings don't appear in more Mizrahi pop albums like the new Halev Boer Elekha by part-time hazzan Jeki Eliyahu.
Although Eliyahu has been writing songs since his youth, the events that led to his debut release were set in motion on a recent pilgrimage to Uman, the Ukrainian village where Rebbe Nahman is buried. A young man named Arik Shahar was playing guitar near the grave site, Eliyahu began to sing along, and before the two knew it, they had decided to cut an album together. Three years later, they have emerged from an Israeli studio with the Hassidic mizrahi pop hybrid that is Boer - with vocals by Eliyahu, production and guitars by Shahar and arrangements by both.
Boer is made up of mostly electronic effects-drenched pop ballads, topped by Eliyahu's North African-influenced wavering vocals. The disc kicks off with two up-tempo, religious pop radio-friendly tracks, before the meditative "Shma Yisrael" repeats the traditional acceptance of faith several times. On "Mefares Sihati," which features Fifties-style "oooh"-ing backup vocals, Eliyahu seeks to stand on the shoulders of righteous giants and even refers to Rebbe Nahman by name before labeling him "the foundation of the world." The album closes with a remix of the title track, which descends into a two-minute dark trance interlude about halfway through.
Ben Jacobson can be reached at email@example.com.