Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jewish Music Review: Benny Ammar: Am Echad

As I mentioned Kol Zimra's front man Benny Amar has just released his debut album entitled Am Echad. It is produced by Shmulie Rosenberg of Skyline Music. Shmulie was nice enough to get me an advance copy so hear are my thoughts on this debut album:

1) Am Echad

Composed and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

This is the title song and it leads in with a strong instrumental introduction. I liked the way the violin was used for the intro since it's a bit different and it was not overused either. I was blown away by Benny's vocals on the low part as I never heard him sound quite that good. He's certainly has grown vocally over the years. The high part sounded just a bit forced at it's highest note but otherwise he sounds very comfortable and the background vocals by David Ross and James Bailes were very solid performances. The child soloist is Yitzy Gerwitz who has a solid sound but I think his diction was a bit over the top. I understand they were going for a rock sound but it didn't come out sounding too natural ( just my opinion). Great trumpets and trombone performances by Danny Flam and co. No Israeli guitars here: Rich Arrigo on guitar and Mike Hall on bass gave this song it's solid rock feel. The violin playing, brought to you by Antoine Silverman added a different dynamic to this title track tune.

Rating: 4 stars

2) Gadol Hashalom

Composed and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

The first ballad of the album is introduced by way of Pan Pipes and acoustic guitar as the violin and the rest of the band join in. The child solist, Yitzy Gerwitz shows off his range nicely in this very tender and pleasant tune. At 4:14 it turns a bit to a rock ballad style with more drum and bass fills which I enjoyed. The song is nice but a bit predictable.

Rating:3 stars

3) Hevei Hashakud

Composed by Boruch Levine

The album now turns it's focus to a reggae sound. The song begins with a slow tempo and picks up on the high part. I enjoyed the background vocal placement as well as the guitar sounds used here ( a type of wa wa) and Benny gives another solid performance. In the middle of the song they throw in some sephardic styled vocals. The song is fun but perhaps a tad disjointed.

Rating: 3 stars

4) Tzur
Composed by Yossi Muller

I enjoyed the piano intro on this off beat moderate rock tune. This song is certainly more contemporary than most of the "shiney shoe" material out there and certainly stands out. I enjoyed the drumming by Benny Koonyevsky which really helped make this song as did Conrad Korsh on Bass.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

5) Koli

Composed and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

The next ballad and the longest song of the album (7:37). The song had a very nice arrangement and nay flute added a real nice touch. The song is certainly pleasant to listen to but perhaps not the most memorable song of the album.

Rating: 3 stars

6) Mikdash Melech

Composed by Benny Amar and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

The Hora of the album with a vocal sephardic intro which I enjoyed. Daniel Flam really added a tremendous of flair to this song and brought it to another level here. It's interesting to note that one of the best songs on the album was written by Benny himself. This was one of the better mixes on the album.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

7) Eliyahu

Composed by Elimelech Blumstein

This song is really up my alley and I really enjoyed the off beat drumming in this moderate hora/disco tune. I like the vocal style mixed with some rock drumming, sax and some slap bass mixed in. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Elimelech who blew up Gabay's latest release is the next big songwriter if he keeps this up.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

8) Sova

Composed by Benny Amar and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

No hiding the origin of this techno song intro-Axel F. I'm not sure this will be the next big wedding hit but certainly it would be good for a DJ to have this tune on hand.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

9) V'ashiva

Composed and Arranged by Shmuli Rosenberg

This ballad was featured on Emes but I had never heard it before. At 2:55 there is a beautiful duet with Benny and Shloime Kaufman that really brings out the beauty of this hartzig tune.
At 5:00 Shloime Kaufman guest stars with Benny singing harmony as the choir joins in.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

10) Omdos

Composed by Abie Rotenberg

The vocals in this intro to this song reminded me of this one. I'm note sure if Abie got the idea from that song but the similarity is quite funny. I like the rock vibe on this song with the laid back vocals in this moderate rock tune.

Rating: 3 stars

Bottom line: Benny's album has some solid material and he's shown some great growth vocally. If he continues down this path he will certainly become a serious contender in the Jewish Music scene. We already know he is a fantastic entertainer ( remember how everyone loved Dedi for his great performances) so be on the look out for Benny Amar! His album hits the stores in about a week. Here is the sampler:


Anonymous said...

Omdos was originally performed by Kol Zimra on their "Music of Abie Rotenberg" Album.

Chaim said...

Good review, I'm just starting to listen to it now. So far I LOVE Sova (even with the ripped off part) and Am Echad, both very catchy songs and V'Ashiva is beautiful.

Jewish Blogmeister said...

One Man,

Thanks for the info

joel said...

Sounds like a decent album, but I'm not going to buy it.
Looking back to the recent past the one thing all the big albums have had in common was that they were more than ten songs. The industry standard is no longer ten. 10 songs for 16.50(Brooklyn)or 18.00(out of town) is not value. Baruch Levine has ten songs on his next album, and if its anything like his debut it is the exeption that proves the rule.

Eli said...

I just got the CD on Eichlers for 14.99 and it's just AMAIZING.
I really love "Sova" I can't stop singing it.

YK said...

Nice review.

I definitely agree that Benny improved his vocals a great deal and you were right on about the diction issue.

And to Joel I would say that sometimes is better to have 10 great songs than having 12 good ones. Amar has 10 great songs.


myra said...

big fan of tsur and koili very easy on the ears!