SHAY GABSO Instead of Me (NMC) The title track of Shay Gabso's sophomore album dominated radiowaves within days of its release earlier this year. Then came another single, "Tagidi Li At," which also conquered DJs' playlists. (The song, which has a double meaning that can be translated as either "Tell Me" or "Tell Me, Liat," was written in memory of Liat Gabay, a soldier killed in a 1994 bombing.) Gabso may have been a runner-up in the first season of Kochav Nolad, but he's the first of the show's singers to release a second album. The 22-year-old may be one of the most truly talented singers to get his break on the show, and this album includes 12 charming tunes that speak both to the ear and to the heart. It's not surprising that the singles have come from the more conventional first half of the album, while the second half features songs that flow into one another and are more focused on sounds than lyrics. In the album's opening songs, Gabso follows the standard Israeli pop-rock guidelines. From the middle to the end of his album he experiments with sound and throws in unusual flute, viola and cello harmonies. Lyrically, the singer seems to be in a search of something. He asks questions and finds answers both outside and within his soul. He's on an active search in songs "Holech" (Going) and "Bederech Elayich" (On My Way to You), while "Bimkomi" (Instead of Me) and "Bimkomenu" (Instead of Us) are about an inner search. While his singles have taken off, many of his lyrics are clich d, and perhaps this a point for Gabso to improve on in his next effort. Nevertheless, Instead of Me is an interesting album because it offers both radio nuggets and unconventional tunes. Most of all, it shows that Gabso is a talent to be reckoned with, be it in the rock-pop field or the rock-instrumental arena. NURIT HIRSH The Best Of (NMC) NMC has added composer/songwriter Nurit Hirsh to its "Best Of" collection series. Many will recognize Hirsh's classic compositions, which in addition to being traditional Hebrew folk songs are also common dance tunes. The 44 tracks here are spread across two CDs and include hits such as "Lalechet Shevi Acharayich," "Ballada LeShoter," "Rak Beyisrael," and, inevitably, Eurovision favorite "Abanibi." Hirsh has composed more than a thousand songs during her career, becoming something of a national composer with film, theater and television scores to her credit. She's performed around the globe, and over the course of her career has garnered a fair share of honors. New immigrants will identify with the playful "Bashanah Haba'ah" and Hirsh's time-honored version of "Oseh Shalom." The best of Israel's folk singers lend their voices to this mix, among them Boaz Sharabi ("Tni Li Yad"), Yehoram Gaon ("Ani Zocher") and Chava Alberstein ("Nechama"). Israeli folk enthusiasts will find it difficult not to like this collection.