Sabra Sunds: 2 artists make a name of their own [p.24]

ELRAN DEKEL Kakha (Hatav Hashmini/Blue Sun) Elran Dekel, a vocalist for hip hop group Funk'n'stein, recently released his first solo album, Kakha (For No Reason). Dekel's solo effort is more subdued than his work with Funk'n'stein, but the album still boasts fun beats that'll get listeners' heads bouncing and their feet tapping. A mix of reggae, folk, ethnic, blues and funk vibes, the album differs from the English-language work of Funk'n'stein with its 11 tracks in Hebrew. (The album also features two instrumental songs.) Dekel wrote the lyrics and music for most of the songs and is responsible for most of the instrumentation, which showcases the big-haired musician's talents on the drums, bass, guitars and keyboard. "Mila Sheli" (My Word) is a simple but touching love song, while "Shir Pashut" (Simple Song) expresses the narrator's untainted optimism. "Shir Pashut" features Kochav Nolad contestant Mika Sadeh helping out on vocals, while Flying Baby's Geva Alon pitches in on the electric guitar on the instrumental track "Yetzia" (Exit). Dekel also had a hand in Kakha's production, splitting producing duties with his brother Ohad. The resulting album proves Dekel's talent and is enjoyable enough, but it lacks that distinctive something that will make listeners want to hit the replay button. Natti Levi Ahava Shel Pa'am Bechaim (Base) In 1987, the 19-year-old Natti Levi released his debut album and immediately became a Mizrahi pop sensation. Critics initially dismissed the young singer as a knock-off of his successful older brother, the singer Yishai Levi, but with hits like "Sucar" (Sugar), "Natali," and "Yalda Ra'a" (Mean Girl), Levi quickly established his own following and reputation. The younger Levi brother recently released his 10th album, A Lifetime Love, a collection of Mizrahi love songs that confidently reaffirms his abilities. Most of the album's songs are directed at a nameless woman (the title track, "Lamut Bishvil Neshika"), and there's also a much talked-about duet, "Lalekhet Yad Be'yad" (Walk Hand in Hand), that Levi performs his older brother, with whom he lost contact during the years Yishai Levi was addicted to drugs. So long as fans enjoy his songs, Levi doesn't care whether he's singing solo or collaborating - a point he proves with the album's many duets, among them a stand-out Mizrahi version of Naomi Shemer's "Lila beHof Achziv" (Night on Achziv Beach). A number of songs reference God, which likely has to do with Levi's becoming more religious over the years. The album features a variety of oriental influences over its 18 tracks including Greek ("Itach Margish Levad"), Turkish ("Mi Ha'ish") and Yemenite ("Majara Li") melodies. Levi's velvety voice and traditional sound are sure to make A Lifetime Love a pleasurable listen for Mizrahi music fans.