Yosef Chaim Shwekey: Lo Lefached

General, Reviews — By on June 30, 2009 6:43 am


Let me tell you this right from the start. If you’re hoping to read some kind of comparison between Yaakov and Yosef Chaim Shwekey, you might as well stop reading right now. This review is about Yosef Chaim Shwekey and his debut CD, Lo Lefached. Despite the similarity between their voices, Yaakov Shwekey had nothing to do with this CD and I see no reason to mention him here.

If you really want to discuss Yosef Chaim Shwekey’s brother, we can talk about his brother Moshe Dovid, who composed five of the eleven songs on this album and penned the lyrics for a sixth. Makes you wonder if there are any other Shwekey brothers out there, waiting in the wings for their chance to dazzle us.

But this review is about Yosef Chaim Shwekey. There’s no doubt he has a good voice and is a talented singer. While this album is not a contender for album of the year, it clearly showcases Shwekey’s vocal abilities. I think his song selection needed work, perhaps because he took so many songs from the same composer. Using a variety of composers would have made this album more well rounded. No question this guy would make a terrific wedding singer. No matter what route he decides to pursue, I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

So much has been written about the cover to this album. Was leaving his last name off a good move? While I understand why he didn’t use the Shwekey name, if I were producing this album, I would have done it differently. As for the last minute change to the album cover, check out: Jewish Music Derech, Life of Rubin, The Cool Jew.com, Jewish Music Review and Jewish Blogmeister.

Ok, time to get down to business.

Emes – This great opening song, composed and arranged by Moshe Laufer, gets the album off to a terrific start. Shwekey sounds great, the song is catchy and the choir is well done. This solid song leaves you with high expectations for the rest of the album. It is without a doubt my favorite fast song on the album.

Hashleich – this slow song is the first of five songs composed by yet another Shwekey brother, Moshe Dovid. The lyrics, like many others on this CD are a good choice: a little off the beaten path, but not so much so that you can’t figure out what they are. Nicely arranged by Yonatan Razel.

Lo Lefached – This upbeat tune was composed by Mendy Werzberger, Yitzy Schwartz and Moshe Dovid Shwekey, with arrangements by Ruvi Banet. I’m not quite sure why this song was chosen to be the title track. If they wanted a fast song for the title track, I think Emes would have been a stronger choice.

Torasi – Pretty slow song, composed by Yitzchok Rubin with beautiful arrangements by Moshe Laufer. All the vocals on this song are solid. Aside from Shwekey’s, child soloist Yehuda Mendlowitz does a terrific job as does Moishe Roth’s choir. I’m not convinced that the third part that comes in from about 4:17 – 4:47 was really necessary. Again, great choice of lyrics which echo the mood of the song nicely.

Song of Our Travels/Ani Maamin – Ani Maamin is actually the last song on the CD but since it’s just a Hebrew version of Song of Our Travels., it made sense to discuss them together. The song concept is a solid: no matter what tragedies have befallen our nation, we have always managed to find the strength to sing the words “Ani Maamin.” But as someone whose family was decimated by World War II, I take umbrage when people drop lyrics like “train” and “siren” into a song and assume people will automatically be moved or inspired because they used the magic words. Given that I can’t be objective about this song, I can’t possibly review it.

Biglal Avos – The first few seconds of this song made me think someone had switched the CD for Dovid Gabay’s Hagomel. This leibidic, upbeat song is another contribution by Moshe Dovid Shwekey. I’m sure Mama Shwekey is shepping lots of nachas.

Margoa – This pretty slow song is probably the strongest song Moshe Dovid Shwekey contributed to this album. Yisroel Lamm’s arrangements give this song a distinctly different flavor than the others. Loved the introduction and this song definitely gives Yosef Chaim a chance to shine. Am I the only one who had to look up the word “margoa” to see what it meant?

Eilecha – This upbeat song is one of Moshe Dovid Shwekey’s better songs with arrangements by Moshe Laufer. Shwekey sounds great and the song is pretty catchy.

Yerushalayim – Someone want to tell me why this song got buried at the end of this album? This hartzig song, composed and arranged by Moshe Laufer is hands down the best song on the album and quite possibly the only song on this album that we may still be hearing in six months. Everything about this song works and I love it. I would have given the song a different name, bumped it up to song number three and made it the title track.

Chaveirim – Another upbeat tune, composed by Moshe Dovid Shwekey with arrangements by Moishe Roth. Oddly enough, while the most of this album has songs that are bursting with innovative lyrics, this one just seems like it doesn’t have enough words in it.


Facebook comments:


  1. YG says:

    To the Reviewer,

    While Emes was a decent song to start off the alnum with in relation to all of the other songs on the album, Im not sure why you are so taken by it. Additionally, I felt that Chaveirim, while the lyrics are not original was a highly catchy and original song. You should certainly not dump a song as a result of the lyrics

  2. Kol Isha says:

    That’s the beauty of art/music. Different people have different taste. As they say in Hebrew, Al ta’am v’reyach ayn l’hitvakeyach!

  3. MDshweks says:

    The combination of “Chaveirim” with the words “Kulam Tzdikim” is indeed most original. (Yes, I’m the composer)

  4. M says:

    I really love this album! As for Yerushalayim and Chaveirim I disagree with you. In my humble opinion Yerushalayim doesn’t seem do have any real tune (probably why it’s ‘buried’) and Chaveirim is pretty original and catchy (especially the vocal arrangements – oy dgdgdgd… chaveirim… ohohohoh Kulam.. never heard that before).

  5. meiven says:

    I am sorry if I attack you but from your own words as you start with his brother I figured that you are a fan of his brother and that you will not be a fan of this cd, for your knowledge there is enough business for both of them
    regarding the cd it’s a beautiful cd listen again to the arrangement on the 9’rd song its fabulous, the 2’nd song is beautiful although I don’t like the arrangements, track 4 is not such a good song I don’t understand how you are so amazed by the child soloist not that I have anything against his voice but it doesn’t belong a child solo at this song, song number 7 and 8 are the most beautiful songs of the album
    total eider you are a fan of his brother and you are worried to say that he is also very good (not that I have nothing against his brother I love them booth i think that they are both very good, and I would love to see them booth at a concert together) as I said there is nothing to worry there is place for both, eider you should listen to the cd again, my conclusion is that it’s the best album of the last 5/6 month

  6. Kol Isha says:

    Meiven: I am so glad that you enjoyed Lo L’fached! You are 100% correct that there is room for both Shwekey brothers in the music business and would love to see them singing together. Personally, I think that leaving the Shwekey name off the cover was a bad idea. Yosef Chaim Shwekey should be proud to use his name – I can’t imagine that anyone would have faulted him for using his own name, nor would anyone have accused him of using his last name to further his career. Hello!! It’s his name! He doesn’t need to apologize for having a successful brother!

    I have no strong feelings either way about Yaakov Shwekey – he is a talented singer, but didn’t think it was appropriate to include him in any way shape or form in this review. This is about Yosef Chaim Shwekey, a talented singer in his own right who I hope to hear more from in the future.

  7. meiven says:

    thanks for your reply, i heard rumers that he wasnt allowed to use his last name (dont know if thats true) if you can find out i will apriciated

  8. meiven says:

    to MD shweky you are a butifull composer i hope that on your brother Yakov’s upcoming albom he will have some songs from you

  9. Kol Isha says:

    Umm…don’t even know who I would ask about that. Can’t imagine that’s the case, but what do I know??

  10. Tzvi says:

    About having a lot from the same composer – just recently Gabai and Williger also did the same thing, and also many in the past, and especially in this case you got to concider the fact that MD Shwekey doesn’t compose for anyone els but for brothers, and nothing came out from him in the last 5-6 years!

  11. Kol Isha says:

    True. Gabay did take a bunch of songs from Elimelech Blumstein. But don’t think Srully Williger is a completely different story – the entire CD was compositions of R’ Twerski. Stay tuned, am almost done with my review of that one!

  12. ShmuliPhoto says:

    Nice review!
    from listening to this album i have to say that there sure is space for 2 Shweky brothers (and maybe even the 3rd, MD) in the Jewish music market. Yes you can say that they are the similar and sound very much the same. But with good songs and a great way to sing them we more than welcome you in the JM world.
    Great Starter Album.

  13. Elimelech says:

    I gotta say i found the compositions on this album to be of very high quality…there is alot of emotion and depth to this production. It has no doubt been a journey for yosef chaim to get to this point but I believe this album proves that he deserves a nice spot on the jewish music scene on his own merit

  14. josh says:

    yc shwekey was asked about the name issue in an interview a while back when the oorah cd came out. I’m pretty sure the interview was by thecooljew.com but now I can’t seem to find it. It has to do with politics. Hameivin Yavin.

  15. M says:

    To Tzvi: actually MD composed part of Hein Am on Lesheim Shomayim (2007)

    To Meiven: according to a recent interveiw with Yosef Chaim, he claims that he didn’t use the name because he wanted to ‘be his own man’ and not ‘Shwekey’s brother’.

    To MDshweks: are you really?

  16. MDshweks says:

    Yes, it’s me. I do not concider Hein Am my song at all, the song had 4 parts and only the fist part was used and the whole spirit was changed.

  17. Kol Isha says:

    More on not using the Shwekey name…just saw an ad for the Chazak concert, where he is listed only as Yosef Chaim. So it doesn’t appear to be a move just for the album cover, but rather for his singing career.

    Hello? Yosef Chaim Shwekey, you out there reading this?? You are good, you are talented and no reason to think you are in anyone’s shadow. If you’d like to share more on this topic with us, feel free to either comment or to contact me at kolisha1@gmail.com. Would love to tell your side of the story and end all the speculation.

    And if not? We’ll be happy to leave it alone. (Or at least I will…can’t speak for anyone else.) The decision whether or not to use your last name is ultimately yours and yours alone.

  18. S says:

    wow kol isha have you got it all wrong i cant belive u r writing reviews about the cd!
    firstly i think it is a contestant for the best cd of the year and prob the best in quite a few years
    and it is extremly well rounded i just think u r just extremly close minded or u must be one of yochis
    little cronies!(or yochi himself bec along with all the rumars about the name i hear the yochi has it in for yc
    wich i truly belive!!!!!(he seems to have it in for anyone with talent)
    and about the song choices the only mistake i feel that he might have made it that he out so many great song that all have
    so much potential to become major hits is that some good ones will just be left behind
    (btw did u c the adds in the paper it read:finaly a cd with more than one good song (11 to be exact))sameach u got this one totaly right on!
    ant just so u know i think mostly every song that moshe dovid has written in the past has been hits so………i realy dont think u shoud be negativ about such a succecful composer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Kol Isha says:

    S: Whoa!!! Slow down! Wow…so many points to address…

    1) I am so glad you loved the CD.
    2) I have no problems with Moshe Dovid Shwekey or his work, I just would have liked to have seen more of a variety of songs from different composers. I think both Yosef Chaim and Moshe Dovid Shwekey have a lot to be proud of on this CD and are extremely talented.
    3) Having said that, while I didn’t see it as a contender for CD of the year, that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad CD or that people shouldn’t buy it. Just that I didn’t think it was a contender for album of the year. I think Yosef Chaim did a great job with the songs and look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
    4) Am I close minded? Maybe. I have my own tastes and opinions. So do you. Does that make you close minded?
    6) Am I one of Yochi Briskman’s cronies, or even Yochi Briskman himself???? Thank you for giving me a good laugh. Does anything about the name “Kol Isha” suggest that perhaps I am not a guy????
    7) Finally, thanx for the comments. Always appreciated.

  20. s says:

    first of all i think you should have someone read you your post back just so maybe you can see it in a diff light
    bec it sounds extreamly negative! Second of all i totaly disagree as i think many will this is deff one of the best cds that have come out in a realy realy long time and actualy the store i got it at said it was selling like hot cakes had to reorder the next day and he order more then the regular to begin with bec he had heard how great it was! and about that comment that i made that u were clode minded i think that if u can make a comment that is not well rounded that means that u only c whet u like and basicaly put down the rest!
    i just think that b4 you write comments u should have someone read it back to u i just so u can hear how it sounds bec u dont know how u might effect someone in the futer by making these comments so….
    good luck with everything!!!

  21. s says:

    also just so can get a better perspective of what wxactly your taste is what DO you think is a contender for best cd of the year?

  22. Kol Isha says:

    You should only know how many times I read over anything before I post it to make sure it sounds right.

    If I don’t like an album, I won’t review it because I would never dream of writing a negative review. Aside from the obvious lashon hara issues, every album is someone’s baby. Hours and hours of work went into every song, every arrangement, every vocal. So if I don’t like something I just won’t review it. It’s just not right. For more on my thoughts on that subject, check out the post that went up on JMR today.

    The fact that I reviewed this album means I did, in fact, enjoy it. But I stick to my original thoughts. I don’t see this going down as album of the year and I while I think Moshe Dovid Shwekey is very talented, I still would have liked to have seen a few other composers represented as well.

    But this is obviously a subject very near and dear to your heart. Which makes me wonder just how closely related to this project you are.

  23. meiven says:

    what is in your opinoin the album of the year? just curius

  24. M says:

    I for one do think that this is one of – if not the – best album(s) of the year (so far. but according to the latest rumors, I doubt this album will be able to hold its place!).

  25. Kol Isha says:

    My vote for album of the year? Tough question, S and meiven. Would really have to think about it before I give you an answer. Good idea for a post on JMR: let both the readers and the writers vote for their favorite album.

  26. simcha says:

    Wow its really nice to see some engagement involved in the public interest of Jewish music. I am slowly dipping my toes into jewish music and love to see the way people respond! I personally really enjoyed his cd, after hearing his previous live performances this reassured me that he can in fact put on a show.

  27. SA says:

    Kol Isha, don’t feel rushed to put out your opinion about CD of the year yet! It’s only July and there are still more cds that are supposed to be coming out before the year ends. I liked your review and though i don’t know if I’m going to buy this cd i like to be as up to date as possible with whats out.

  28. Kol Isha says:

    Thanx, SA. You are right. The time to decide album of the year is the end of the year – either Tishrei or December. And personally, I’m more inclined to come up with a list of songs that I loved sooner than album of the year.

  29. Zack says:

    Your so right. his voice is great. hes an excellent performer. the music is good as well. Its not a candidate for album of the year because the song selection is not great.

  30. meiven says:

    hi what about making revweis on music arranger’s like Mona, Moshe loufer, Yisroel Laam, Ruvi Banat,etc

  31. meiven says:

    and what about my comment from last week to bring more news and insides about upcoming alboums?

  32. Ari says:

    Nice to read a review as well as feedback from others.
    Just spent 7 hours driving this weekend and listened to entire album numerous times.
    Biglal Avos is hand down the best song (my opinion of course). Just hearing a 30 second sample made me want to buy the album. Second favorite is Hashleich. Notice nice acoustic guitar at 3:37. Actually sounds similair to the opening of the following http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkCYGghg1uY (Warning: Not Jewish song…). Would like to hear more acoustic guitars in jewish music…getting tired of the horns and sad slow piano.

  33. cw says:

    biglal avus is the nicest song of the album arrangment are not great a simple laufer lo lefached music and choir are outstanding arranged by ruvi b. chaverim also nice arrangement by moshe roth but all the slow songs that has the 3th part that he sings for a few seconds is to much the same for 1 album to yossi c. s. a lot of hatzlacha

  34. Yitzchok glassman says:

    yosef chaim swekey iI like his ablum him and his brother is the best singers in the music world

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