Sabra Sounds: Momy Levy and Shiri Maimon

Maimon proves on her follow-up album that she is the dominant Israeli pop artist today.

Shiri Maimon 1 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shiri Maimon 1 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
MOMY LEVY Yavo Ishi (Personal Import) (Helicon/Teta) Though he is credited with being one of the founders of funk and R&B in the country, Momy Levy only recently released his second album in the genre. Personal Import comprises 14 funky and jazzy songs that are not only sung by Levy, but also produced and arranged by him. In addition, there is a bonus track that serves up a winning duet with singer Ayala Ingdeshet. The album has its good points and its bad ones. On the one hand, Levy's vocals are appealing. The musicianship is good, too, with dependable production throughout. On the other hand, the texts are far too kitschy. And because Levy takes no risks here in pushing his voice or music just a little bit beyond the expected, the album is unexciting. He performs soulful ballads ["Tihee Karov" (Be Close), "Oolay" (Maybe)] and groove-driven R&B tracks ["Banu Leha'ir T'ir" (Watch me Now), "Lo Valentino" (No Valentino)]. Having worked as a producer for a number of artists over the years, it is not surprising that Levy includes in his latest record installments from fellow songsters Arkadi Duchin and Rami Kleinstein. One of the standout tracks is "Kama Slihot" (How Many Apologies), a soulful pop ballad sung with Shirley Tzafri. Levy definitely proves that gospel and funk can be translated into Hebrew. However, on his next album he must push the boundaries of the genre to prove that his creativity is worth listening to. SHIRI MAIMON Rega Lifnei Sheh… (Just Before…) (Helicon) Momy Levy's influence on Shiri Maimon is evident on her second album, Rega Lifnei Sheh…, which is packed with soul inflections. And whereas Levy held back his vocals, Maimon goes for it. She may have been the runner-up to Ninette Tayeb in the A Star is Born song contest on TV, but Maimon proves on her follow-up album that she is the dominant Israeli pop artist today. The first single off the album, "Yoter Tov Lisloah" (It's Better to Forgive), became an immediate hit. The Helicon record label employed producers Levy and Yoad Nevo (who counts Bryan Adams, Sugababes and Sophie Ellis Bextor as clients), among others, to ensure that Maimon's musical arrangements and sound production would be tops. While that is certainly the case, and with the music taken care of, Maimon was given the space she needed to simply concentrate on her vocals. This is no TV reality show puppet. Maimon can sing - and she proves it when she easily hits the high notes and the low ones. Her voice is enthralling. On "Bua" (Bubble), Maimon takes a chance many other local pop stars would shy away from. She sings clean, high notes without a convoluted musical backdrop to hide any potential mistakes. This album is all about Maimon's vocal range, and she confirms that she has what it takes.