The Israeli-Celtic Sound

Etti Ankri includes a new song composed for this 'best of' compilation.

etti ankri 88 (photo credit: )
etti ankri 88
(photo credit: )
Etti Ankri The Best Of (NMC) NMC has collected 34 of soft-rock singer Etti Ankri's songs and packaged them in this anthology. Among the tracks are "Gagua", "Lolita", "Karata Li Esther", "Roeh Lecha Beinayim" and a new version of "Acharay 20 Shana." The socially conscious singer last year released Milionim. The title track of that album (included in this compilation) spoke of the deteriorating economic situation in Israel. While she began her public singing career in the 1980s, before her debut album, Roeh Lecha Beinayim (I Can See in Your Eyes) came out in 1990, Ankri was considered an actress who dabbled in the music business. Her lyrics, compositions, playing skills and vocals changed all that. Throughout her career she has had an active role in her music - composing, arranging, playing and singing. The 35th track in this "Best Of" collection is "Giniva" - a new song composed for this compilation. As she is wont to do, Ankri includes a heavy dose of ethnic rhythms on "Giniva." Some of her songs stand out more than others on this double album, but the actress/singer's haunting voice is always captivating. Ankri joins Nurit Galron, Korin Allal and Riki Gal among the leading Israeli female artists in NMC's Best Of series. Evergreen (Yarok Ed) The Unseen Dance (Green Emerald Records/Hatav Hashmini) There's nothing like a good dose of Evergreen to pep up one's day. The five-member ensemble based in northern Israel has just released its second album, The Unseen Dance. Israelis tampering with Celtic beats? You betcha. While Michal Shahar (vocals, flutes, whistles, piano, melodika), Gal Shahar (violin, viola, mandolin, vocals), Moshe Avigdor (acoustic guitars), Abe Doron (percussion) and Eitan Hoffer (violin, guitar, lute) have no Irish or Scottish roots per se, they all have a deep love of Celtic culture. Evergreen came about in 1999. That same year, I saw the troupe play live at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque's Murphy's Irish festival. While Israeli classical musicians are not usually considered leading performers of Irish/Scottish tunes, Evergreen's foot-stomping melodies erased any doubts. Since then, the group has become a staple on the local folk festival circuit. Michal Shahar's flute/whistle playing is exciting (even if one cannot see her performing). She plays so quickly ("The Tale of the Old Oak," "Heddi's Set") that it sounds as if there are at least two flautists backing her up. Gal Shahar's fiddle skills are best experienced on "The Mason's Apron Reel," while Hoffer and Avigdor excel in "The Three Leprechauns' Set" and "Sunbeam." As for Doron's awesome percussion effects - he finds rhythm in spoons, shakers, blocks and more traditional drums - it would be difficult to find anyone not jealous of his skills. Evergreen's background in both classical and folk music enables the band to cross musical boundaries easily. Mixing Hebrew lyrics with traditional reels, novel jigs and time-honored jingles, The Unseen Dance is authentic Celtic, even if Evergreen's players hail from Ma'ale Zvia.