As I mentioned last week, I was given a copy of Erran Baron Cohen's new album to review. There have been some delays in getting this review out there, but now - five days before Chanukah, I give you . . .
Songs in the Key of Hanukkah: A Review
Note: The some of the tracks on the album do contain kol isha. For those of us out there who are careful, be forewarned. Of note, those tracks with kol isha were reviewed by my sister.
As Erran Baron Cohen states, the inspiration for this album was the desire to make a Chanukah album that could truly be enjoyed by the entire family - with tracks that adults could appreciate and enjoy on their own. With this as his goal, he has in many way succeeded. Songs (as it'll be called here throughout) has a funky beat and fresh sound that makes it enjoyable for those over ten to listen to.
The packaging is nicely designed, in a slick and modern understated black, with a menorah collage of bright shapes and colors. The eight pages of the liner notes (which I'm sure were numbered so purposely) are bright, with the lyrics to the songs and a brief description of each one listed in order.
1. Hanukkah oh Hanukkah: This first song serves as a catchy intro to the whole album. It starts off with a bang, building up to the rhymes of Ylove. Even though the musical intro drags on a bit to long for my tastes (starting only in the second third of the track) - a slight problem throughout the CD - over all it sets the tune that this Album packs a punch.
2. Dreidel: The catchiest track on the album, I love the horns Baron Cohen uses here (trumpet and tuba).
3. Ocho Kandelikas (8 Candles): A slightly 'softer', this song still has a nice up beat. It's a bit too long, but the acoustic guitar, and the Latin beat ares great. I liked the idea of using Ladino for a song.
4. Spin it Up: For some reason it feels like the faster tracks of the album were mostly lumped to the front. I found this song fun and funky. The musical intro is great, but again a bit too long. As well the lyrics themselves come off as somewhat repetitive . . . Over all it's still a nice take on sivivon.
5. Look to the Light: The first of several slower tracks on the album, I wasn't particularly taken by this one -findings the lyrics somewhat cheesy. I did however like the chorus.
6. Rock Of Ages: Like many of the songs here, Rock of Ages is a new take on a classic, in this case Maoz Tzur. For whatever reason this track didn't catch me like the others. Perhaps it would have served to merge it with the hebrew maoz tzur at the end, making them into one bilingual fully formed track.
7. Relics of Love and Light: Idan Raichel is absolutely great. My favorite of the slower paced songs, I love the haunting words and melody here. Caspi isn't as strong Idan, coming off a slightly 'whiny'. The flutes in the background were very interesting. Over all a great song.
8. A La Luz De La Vela (In The Light of the Candle): A bit of lounge song, A La Luz is nice, but fails to stand out. As like several songs on the album, it drags on bit too long. I loved the piano and love the muted trumpet here though.
9. My Hanukkah (Keep the Fire Alive): Y-Love is great here, giving a detailed history of Chanukah.
10. Ma’oz Tzur: It does seem fitting to end of the album with a more 'classic' rendition of a song, and Maoz Tzur isn't bad. I still feel, however, this song would have better served as the Hebrew half of Rock of Ages - notice even that the ending is the same in both songs.
Over all Songs is fun album, despite getting occasionally lagged down in repetitions. I could see it working perfectly as music for a Chanukah party - and as a great gift. Check it out!
As a promo I've included a link to the MP3 of Dreidel, care of Sneak Attack Media: Save the link and enjoy . . . MP3