Classic Review – London Girls Choir: Silver Lining

General, Reviews — By on September 24, 2009 6:59 am

london girls
Let me warn you right now. I’m reviewing a CD that most of you are never going to listen to, given that this CD is for women and girls only. But that’s okay. We suffered through a whole summer of men’s only events. It’s about time we got some equal time. So, sorry guys, you’re just gonna have to deal with it.

And it really is a bummer that you’re missing out on such a terrific album. Make no mistake about it, London Girls Choir debut album, Silver Lining is a really solid CD. It’s not a first rate girl’s CD. It is a consistently solid album and trust me when I tell you the boys choirs could learn a few things from this CD. It is just that good. What makes it so good? It’s not the voices, which are fine, though not amazing. It’s the songs which are great and the harmonies which are mind numbingly good.

Dena Cohen, the musical director of the Shira Centre does just about everything on this album. She directs, is one of the arrangers, composed all the songs but one, arranged all the vocals, designed the cover along with her husband Arie and plays the keyboards. Oh yeah, she also does some great vocals.

Once again, the official disclaimer: This CD is for women and girls only!!!! Having said that, if you guys want to keep reading and see what you’re missing, go right ahead.

Avraham Yagel – The fingers snapping at the beginning of this song tell you exactly what you are in for. A cheerful, upbeat song that will have your feet tapping in time to the music. A good opener for this album. Not the best song, but one that is enjoyable enough that you can’t wait to hear what’s coming next. I love the Menucha-a-a-a-ah at 2:59.

Silver Lining – The lyrics are not particularly sophisticated but it doesn’t matter. The music is great, the harmonies are top notch and the English accents add so much. Love the silver lining harmony at 2:49.

Bicha Batchu – A pretty slow song, nicely done. Love the harmony at 1:42. And this is probably the only girls CD I’ve ever heard where they pronounce their oh’s as oy’s. Kinda cute.

Shiru LaHashem – A perfectly acceptable fast song. Love the way they change the words “Halelukah” to “Hallelulu” at 1:00.

Little Bird – This lyrics to this song aren’t what you would expect from the title. It’s an older sister singing about her younger sister about to get married. Love the way the song starts out: girls talking excitedly, right before the chupah at a wedding. From there it segues into the Bobover niggun, which is then used as a harmony to the beginning of the song. So unbelievably gorgeous. The beautiful harmonies continue throughout the song and are such a great accompaniment to the moving lyrics.

Emor Me’at – Love the low harmonies coming in at about 2:00. I hate to sound repetitive but these are just not your typical harmonies and that’s what makes this album stand out. Love the way they take the words “we should receive” in the harmony and change them to “we should receive we should re, we should receive we should re” (no, that’s not a typo).

Yivarechicha – Another pretty slow song, which is where these girls really shine. Like the sound of the baby mobile at the beginning and end of this one. This Sam Glaser composition is the only song on this album not composed by Dena Cohen.

Ma Rabu – As much as the slow songs are great on this album, this fast song is far and away the best song on the album. There are so many great moments in this song, starting with the violin intro. Love the little splashes of violin the first and second times through the song. But things really heat up on the third pass through this song. Love the techno piece at 2:24 with, of course, violins in the background. At 3:28 the fun really starts with Dena Cohen’s solo. She hits notes so low and for so long that I honestly have no clue if she was able to get through the whole thing in one shot or if it was patched together in the studio. Love it, love it, love it!

Cocoon – The introduction to this song sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, which seems like it should be a little incongruous for a song with lyrics like these. But it works and this soft, soothing song hits the mark.

Shabbos Spirit – No words for most of this inspiring song. Eishes Chayil comes in about halfway through, followed by Shalom Aleichem and you almost get that Shabbos in sleepaway camp feeling. Once again, great harmonies. Love the way the na na na’s feed off each other at 3:01 and again at 3:40.

One Nation – Okay, this cute song featuring little girls is a little cutesy. But it’s a great concept and it works. Again, the great harmonies at 1:50 and 3:11, which are fairly sophisticated for such young girls, take this song from just cute to a really good listen.

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25 Comments

  1. I have to admit..
    My daughter listens to this all the time…and it’s my guilty little pleasure to eavesdrop once in awhile.
    You’re spot on. If only boys choirs would put out such quality albums…

  2. Sara says:

    Yay, finally a review of a women’s CD! Thanks Kol Isha! Now, do you think you could do a review of Shira Girls Choir 2? That one is my favorite girls choir of all time.

  3. Kol Isha says:

    David: Thanx for the ringing endorsement!

    Sara: Is Shira Girls choir the one out of Baltimore? If it is, I’ve heard the first one and it was pretty good. I don’t think i have the second one.

    Also, I didn’t review Silver Lining because it was a great girls CD. I reviewed it because it was a great CD. Period. As the mother of girls who sing, I wish there were more opportunities for girls to get involved in quality productions.

  4. Atara says:

    Yes, thank you for finally reviewing a women’s CD! Yes, Shira Girls Choir is from Baltimore, and you shoud definitely get your hands on their second CD (“Lechu V’nailcha”); it’s great :-).

  5. Chani says:

    I agree with every word of this review. From the moment I first listened to this CD and the second one – I have LOVED it and so have my kids! thank you. It seems like those Brits do have talent after all!

  6. Kol Isha says:

    Atara: Get someone to send me a copy and if I like it, I will! :)

  7. TovaGoldberger says:

    We also have the CD and love it! We want MORE!

  8. ChanaB. says:

    Way to go Kol Isha – It is a great CD!!!!!

  9. Sara says:

    Kol Isha, I’ll volunteer to send you a copy of Shira Girls Choir 2. If you value a good quality women’s cd I feel like you’ll like that one as well (I’m in no way connected to them, I just think its a solid album). :-D

  10. Kol Isha says:

    Sara: I value a good CD. I don’t care if there are men, women or monkeys singing on it. As long as it’s good, I’ll be happy to review it. You can email me at kolisha1@gmail.com for contact info.

  11. CW says:

    What I love about this album is the music arranging. It is superb, far superior to any other Jewish album, even all these years later. (Silver Lining must be at least 5 years old – it’s been playing in our car for ages.) There are a lot of very clever key changes going on within the songs. The way D Cohen composes is unlike any other contemporary composer I’ve heard. She interweaves chords and takes you from the key of G to the key of D with you barely noticing, and then back again, and it’s quite breathtaking. (It took me some time to figure it out, but in silver lining, the chords go: C, G, C, G, Bm, F#7, G, A, and then for the chorus you’re suddenly in D) You can hear her classical training coming through in the actual song compositions, and the beautiful music arranging.

    I’m not a huge fan of Jewish music, since I come from a more classical / non-Jewish music background, and therefore find most Jewish music boring and uninspiring. But this is one jewish album that I enjoy listening to.

  12. CW says:

    sorry, it’s from Bm to F# MINOR 7th (not major).

  13. I will admit to knowing the songs quite well… because one of my sisters was in that choir. You might think the CDs quite good, but hearing her singing them over and over again, every day…
    Still, from the flashes I’ve heard of the album it sounds ok. I agree, it’s nice you’re “pushing” women’s music.

  14. Kol Isha says:

    Yisroel: Surely I misunderstood you. It’s not possible that just a few hours after Yom Kippur you are writing “you MIGHT think the CDs quite good but…” suggesting that really it’s not. Please tell me I read that wrong.

    And I dont “push” women’s music. I push GOOD music, which in this case, happens to be sung by women.

  15. CW says:

    Yisroel sounds like he’s judging his sister’s singing, not the album! And it’s interesting how many men are biased against ‘women’s productions’. I agree, most of the frum women’s productions leave a lot to be desired, but an album like Silver Lining is definitely up there with the rest of the best. (in my opinion far more interesting and professional than MBC and YBC.) I think some men think that’s it’s not ok for a woman to produce something better than men – I think it threatens them! :o)

  16. Kol Isha says:

    CW: Uh oh…think you just waged war with the guys…fasten your seatbelts everyone…this may get very interesting!!

  17. Atara says:

    Thanks Sara!

  18. CW says:

    Kol Isha, what if I AM a guy?!?

    ;o)

  19. Kol Isha says:

    Then I’d guess you were raised in a house full of girls because you would be the most liberal minded guy I would have ever met!

  20. I seem to have committed a cardinal error – making a comment and then assuming people would not care about what I wrote. I therefore missed the fact that I have come in for criticism here. I would like to swiftly correct my mistake by saying the following:
    Please tell me I read that wrong.” – ok, you read it wrong. When I said “you might have thought it was good,” my intent was to imply that my sister gets on my nerves by singing the same songs so much. I’m sure you can sympathise with a song becoming irritating once you hear it too much. And even that was meant as a joke only – she sings nicely and I’ve figured out many of the songs myself on keyboard, proving that I enjoy them. I unreservedly regret implications to the contrary in my previous comment.
    And I don’t “push” women’s music, I push GOOD music…” – let me rephrase the idea: it’s good that you are pointing out that good women’s music exists; being a genre that is missed by so many of us, we sometimes need reminding of it.
    I hope I’ve said enough to show that I am not biased against women’s productions, just against my sister when I’m in a bad mood.
    Sorry for the long discourse!

  21. Kol Isha says:

    Criticism? Chas v’shalom…more like a response!

    So glad I read you wrong, as another commenter pointed out a few after your comment went through. I hear exactly what you meant. I knew there had to be a way to read that comment without it sounding so negative, but couldn’t figure it out! Glad you responded.

    And as for the women’s music, appreciate the comments. Feel free to share long discourses with us any time. We love them!!

  22. CW says:

    raised in a house full of girls…? …maybe… :o)

    I just like to give credit where credit’s due! I enjoyed reading your review, and felt that certain aspects of this production hadn’t been covered, so I tried to cover them.

  23. Avi says:

    Random q with nowhere to post… (which begs the q: why is there no general discussion forum on this site?): Does anyone know who the Rebbi is in the Tzlil v’Zemer Vol. 4 song “Be a Friend”? It just played on my comp and it occured to me that it might be Uncle Moishy, but I have no idea. Anyone?

  24. Hislahavus says:

    That would be a good question to pose in the Best of Tzlil V’Zemer post. But I don’t know the answer. :-(

  25. ruth mazurek says:

    It is a sweet album, and proof that a middle aged woman enjoyed it – I did listen to the first song over and over on my 45 minute commute home from work. I enjoyed the instrumentation and the arrangement. While I do enjoy some of the boys choir music – it is peppy – for the most part it sounds boring, commercialized and shouted – I often don’t find inspiration from a little boy yelling words he does not understand. Current Jewish music is very much missing the female voice.

    Concerning this album, as much as I enjoyed parts of it, it is not of the same caliber of a Yigal Calek. Additionally, I think there could be beautiful harmonies utilitzing the female range of voice even more than what was arranged here. Some of the songs were too reminiscent and a copycat of the boys choir solos.

    I am putting forth a challenge – I would gladly help finance a girls choir/presentation with a more sophisticated choral arrangement.

    Please contact me – my email address was submitted.

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