ARYEH NAFTALY Waiting for Elijah (Third Age Productions) Moshav Mevo Modiim's Aryeh Naftaly has co-written much of the Moshav Band's repertoire and has released several CDs under the band name N Safeq, and as a Hebrew-language solo artist. This is his first collection of English-language solo odds and ends, culled from over 20 years of home studio tinkering. Thematically, Waiting for Elijah focuses on "my usual subjects - love and faith," notes Naftaly, "with a few monkey-wrenches thrown in for good measure." Naftaly's verses are rife with imagery delivered in a light manner - closer to Don McLean's allegorical "American Pie" than Edgar Allen Poe's dense verse. In "The Big Game," Naftaly uses the fluid title concept as a springboard for symbolism pastiche, referencing porcelain teeth, God's credit card, virginity, broken clocks, the Salvation Army, classroom angst and cable TV. "Rediscovery" is a dream-like narrative that describes the experience of "walking in Manhattan with my Bible in my hand" before coming back to Jerusalem to find inspiration in the ordinary. Naftaly's songwriting is versatile in mood as well. "Lay Down" is anchored by a creative rhythm/phrasing structure, and feels like a somber lullaby, while "She's So Beautiful" gets more of a conventional rock treatment. But Elijah's dominant flavors are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash and most often Young. Most of the tracks are given basic melodies that are light and pleasurable - a dominant acoustic strum with toppy slide guitar parts and ethereal, affirming messages. All of the disc's compositions and sounds are courtesy of Naftaly, except for some performances from drummer Roy Shaked, plenty of contributions from vocalist Duvid Swirsky and some guest harmonies from Naama Ozair. The collection, available through www.israel-music.com, comes with a beautiful booklet that sports full-page iconic duotone paper-cuts by Naftaly for each song. V'HAVIENU V'havienu 2 (Gal-Paz) Yet another larger-than-life Hassidic pop project with more of a brand name than a band name, V'havienu 2 was produced and composed by Dani Kunstler, who collaborated with an army of studio men, session players and vocalists. This is dos-pop that almost breaks out of the stiflingly schmaltzy confines of the genre, but can't quite escape the mold. With its power chord sequences and wailing lead guitar licks, the opening title track comes close to hard rock territory, but ultimately backs away, as it's drenched in synth strings and features men's choir vocals, a wedding band-style sax solo and a straight one-two beat. Thanks to a wah-wah guitar, tight horn splashes and a slapped bass line, "Baruch Hu" and "Sameach" try to bring out the funk, but alas, the aforementioned elements of cheese just bum the songs out. V'havienu 2 is at its best when the disc sticks to the territory it knows, as in the cases of its bombastically over-dramatized ballads.