This review is long overdue.
As much as I love music in general, Jewish music usually comes up in the "What were you thinking?" department similar to Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice. Since the late 90's we've started to see a new trend in Jewish music and this past year was a landmark year. I purchased four albums this past year that blew me away, in their musicianship, the song writing, the producing (something that has been sorely lacking) - but it really just comes down to this: They cared.
MOChassid published U'Shmuel B'korei Sh'mo in honor of his late father Shmuel. If I were him I'd be truly honored by this - there is not one thing about this album that is not done well. Some things are done better than others, but all done well.
Even though I have tons of music on the computer - mp3's, Shn's, and FLACs - I love being able to hold the CD in my hand and read the linear notes while listening to the CD [as I'm doing now]. The CD is visually stunning - the artwork is respectful and tasteful though not sad in anyway. After reading the dedication on the inside cover I cannot help but be reminded of a celebration of life instead of a mourning of death. Truly a fitting memory
The music is beautiful. The musicians - most of whom I've met and own CD's of - are world class. I particularly like the fact that none of these songs appear on other albums. The list of musicians that appear is enough to make my jaw drop: Chaim David, Shlomo Katz, Eitan Katz, Nochi Krohn, Avraham Rosenblum, Yosef Karduner, Ben Zion Solomon, and Aron Razel. I started off this review by listing the change in the past decade - these are the artists that have been at the forefront of this change. Except for Avraham Rosenblum and Ben Zion Solomon (if you don't know both of these guys were in Diaspora Yeshiva Band). This is truly a collection of the gedolim of Jewish music.
I'm tempted to list my favorite tracks, but that would be very time consuming since they really are all fantastic. Only one song I don't think fits and that's Chaim Dovid's "Brach Dodi". Listen, it's good but not great and the placement is not great. "Brach Dodi" is the segue between Shlomo Katz's "Shuvi Nafshi" and Aron Razel's "Yom Shaboson" which are both up tempo sing-a-long's.
The only real criticism that I have is the number of times each artist appears on the album. Shlomo Katz appears 3 times, Chaim David Nochi Krohn and Aron Razel each appear twice. Yet Ben Zion Solomon, Yosef Karduner, and Avraham Rosenblum only appear once. There will aparently be a follow up album and I look forward to it's release - hopefully many of these same artists will reappear.