Sabra Sounds: Aya Korem and Rita

Expectations surrounding Aya Korem's follow-up to her successful eponymous debut two years ago were high and she does not disappoint.

AYA KOREM Safa Zara (Hed Arzi/Anana) Expectations surrounding Aya Korem's follow-up to her successful eponymous debut two years ago were high. She's taken her time, but Korem does not disappoint with her second release, Safa Zara (Foreign Language). The first two songs off the album "Al Ta'amini" (Don't Believe) and "Hasof shel Hasipur" (The End of the Story) were greeted with heavy radio play. However, all 13 tracks are worthy of air time. This CD is quite different from her first album. Her first CD was pop-oriented and packed with radio hits including "Kayitz," "Shir Ahava Pashut" and "Yonatan Shapira." Safa Zara takes on more of a rock style with jazz, cabaret and country inflections. Korem, who is considered one of the country's most promising singer-songwriters, composed the music to her songs in addition to writing the texts. She broke onto the scene around the same time as Keren Peles and Miri Mesika, but while Peles was hailed for her sex appeal and Mesika for her voice, Korem's future in the local music scene was said to be debatable. On the one hand, she proved on her first album that she knows how to write songs. On the other hand, she lacked the "oomph" her peers boasted. But Korem did not fade away into the shadows. Rather the singer continues to prove her songwriting ability with punchy songs about daily life, love, and Israeli reality. Now and then she draws on clichés, but for the most part her writing is witty, original, and charming. There is reason why the Nazareth Ilit born Korem has garnered so many headlines in the local music field - at 28 years old, she is very talented indeed. And yet, this album isn't likely to collect the awards her debut release reaped. Still, she'll claim her part of the local music scene. RITA Remazim (Hints) (Hed Arzi) Prior to the release of her seventh studio album, Rita was featured in many articles. After all Remazim (Hints) is the popular singer's first release following her shocking breakup with husband and music collaborator, Rami Kleinstein. And though they ended their long union, Kleinstein still contributed to this album, composing music to five of the songs. Remazim took three years to produce. The songs contain simple melodies and melancholic texts, alternating between speaking openly about a relationship gone sour and hinting at such a relationship. But while other "break-up albums" are filled with hate, pain, self-pity, and rage (Joni Mitchell's Blue, Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, or Beck's Sea Change, among others), Rita's CD is nostalgic and sad. She looks back on the days when she and Kleinstein were sure of themselves ("Ha'eenu Gdolim") and on the present as they go their separate ways ("Sof Ha'ona"). Rita sounds down, and perhaps also worn-out. And while the texts are heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, she offers listeners a very personal view of her life. Musically, however, the album is rather unexciting. There is nothing daring in the melodies, and the tracks blend into one another. There is no doubt that Rita's fans will propel her latest disc up the charts, but a new listener might find it difficult to understand what all the hype is about.