Friday, June 13, 2008

Jewish Music Review: Yosef Karduner: Mikdash Melech

Yosef Karduner has just released his latest album entitled "Mikdash Melech". Yosef Karduner is known for his folk style approach to Jewish music i.e. Carlebach etc.. A soccer player turned Breslov, Yosef certainly has a lot of experiences to draw upon both musically ( playing in a rock group) and in life (IDF).

Listen to the Sampler:

1) Shleach: This intro starts with vocals and moves into a short introduction as Yosef begins the song. The low part is more conversational than melodic. I enjoyed the high part with it's harmonies as the song picks up tempo with percussion added in to fill it up a bit more. The song is certainly catchy and conveys the message that g-d should send us a true merciful leader.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

2) Moshiach Yavo: The song begins with a child soloist who does a great job introducing this nice ballad. The song has a nice hook and is very pleasant to listen to. I would have liked to have heard better harmonies but still a solid song.

Rating: 3 Stars

3) Noisaim L'Rebbe: A song about chasidim traveling to visit the Rebbe on Rosh Hashonah. This song is pretty sophisticated compared to previous material I've heard from Karduner and has a very laid back middle eastern vibe. From a chord change point of view it reminds me of the Israeli songs they play during the shmorg ( erev ba etc) and this would be a perfect wedding song to add to that repertoire. I really enjoyed this song throughout. The harmonies along with a narrative thrown in the middle really make this song fantastic.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

4) Kavod Hashem Megroincha: This ballad begins with piano, flute, guitar and piano and you hear Karduner's sweet voice filter through the words and the message of purifying your thoughts to understand the torah envelops the music. In order to really appreciate this song you must listen to the lyrics closely because their meaning is integral. The emotion is very apparent here and hauntingly beautiful.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

5) Ein Shum Yiush: A great rock/disco song that gets killed with cheesy keyboard sounds and a sub par arrangement. It almost sounds like a demo he made for a real arrangement with it's very cheesy fake brass. The song sounds like something you would hear from Elimelech Blumstein. I would love to hear someone remake this song because with some nice horn arrangements and a bit of a rockier feel this song could potentially be a big hit.

Rating: 4 Stars

6) Brochos V'hodaos: Another ballad featuring some nice harmonies. It is very pleasant but not the most memorable.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

7) Halainu:No real intro here, Yosef just dives right into the song. This ballad features acoustic guitar and then goes into some really nice harmonies with electric guitar and acoustic feeding off each other. The harmonies on the high part are simple and sweet and have some nice chord changes.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

8) L'artzeinu: I really enjoyed this moderate country shuffle style tune. Interestingly it's the shortest song on the album at just 1:55 and I think it should have been stretched out more. The country style harmonies really frame this song nicely along with the percusion in the background it's a tease to have it this length. I think he could have made more of this song but it's real catchy.

Rating: 4 Stars

9) Mikdash Melech: The title song begins with a narrative of a bit more than a minute long from Karduner and he begins singing. The low part is a bit predictable as he continues with just a nigun on the high part. I'm surprised this was the title song certainly not the best song on the album.

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars

10) Hashem Sefosi Tiftach:I enjoyed this simple intro and trumpet and acoustic work well here. The chord changes are very contemporary and more sophisticated in this offbeat oompah style tune and the harmonica adds a nice dimension here as well.

Rating: 4 Stars

11) Nigun Noisaim L'Rebbe: I guess Karduner agreed that this is one of his best songs on this album so he played it twice. This time as an instrumental and gives you an idea of what it might sound at a wedding. Things are kicked up a notch with more elaborate percussion playing and electric guitar with flute taking most of the melody.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Bottom Line: Yosef Karduner is showing more of himself musically and is not afraid to add a level of sophistication that is usually missing from the Carlebach types. His voice is as sweet as ever as is the heart of his vocals. I think this album will cross over a bit more into mainstream Jewish Music although it is still more simplistic in it's arrangement style and more acoustic in nature.I enjoyed this album very much and I suspect many people who previously were not that interested in Folk Jewish Music, will be drawn in by this album. You can purchase the album here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love his music. I dont understand much Hebrew but the soul understands and i like his passion for G-d.