Every once in a while an album comes out that really excites me more than a regular release. Of course, I am always looking for good new music, and new music by my favorite artists and performers, but that’s not what excited me with the recent debut album of Mendy Werzberger. Mendy is not famous (yet), and until recently I didn’t even know he was working on an album. While Mendy has been involved in projects before (The Unity and Copyright Project videos and the CD 2nd Dance for example), he was a virtual unknown to most of us. The songs on the album are not intricate songs and neither are the arrangements, but there is something about this album that transcends all that. Mendy is a composer of very pleasant songs, with a sweet voice who always had a dream of releasing an album, and he finally realized his dream! This alone was enough to get me to put my main focus on his release, even though it was released at the same time as other more hyped albums. Once I started listening to it, I couldn’t stop! For anyone looking for a pleasant and enjoyable new album to listen to, V’ani Tefilosi is for you!
Here are my song by song assessments:
V’ani Tefilosi- The album begins with its title track, a lebedik hora composed by Mendy and his brother Moshe, in collaboration with keyboard virtuoso Yitzy Schwartz, who also arranges the song along with Ruli Ezrachi. While Ruli is well known as an arranger, Yitzy is not, however the arrangements are expertly and tastefully done. The choir is led by up and coming Israeli arranger Yoel Dikman. This is a very pleasant song that blends Mendy’s voice very nicely with the choir and band. I have to point out one thing I love about this song (and the whole album in general) and one thing that I don’t love so much. I happen to love good bass lines, and there are some really nice ones on this song and all over the album. I don’t love the auto tune, but I understand it’s the style and rage nowadays so I can live with it, especially since it’s not overdone.
V’no- This song as a swing feel to it, but is really a mix between a swing and oompah song. Whatever style it is, this is a nice song! Co-composed by Mendy and Yitzy Schwartz, who also arranges it, and the backup vocals by the Zemiros Choir, under the able leadership of Yoel Polatseck, this song is a very calming song and one of my favorites on this album.
B’sheim Hashem- The first true slow song on the album, this rock ballad is my favorite song on the album. The actual composition by Mendy (with help from Yanky Katina) is breathtaking, and the arrangements by Eli Lishinsky and Nir Graff are masterful. Need I say more? I think not, but I will anyways. I don’t know who is the guitar soloist at 3:31 (there are a number of guitarists listed as playing on the album), but the solo caught my ear right away, and I replayed it over and over because it just takes the song to the next level.
Toda L’cha- This fun Hora was featured in a music video that came out a couple of months ago, and I loved it the first time I heard it. Listen to it, and it’s bound to have you dancing in your seat (like I am right now….you don’t want to know how it looks, but I can’t help myself). This song is composed by Mendy (as all the songs on the album are either partly or wholly composed by Mendy) and arranged by Yitzy Schwartz and Eli Lishinsky, who also does some of the background vocals as well.
Kol Z’man- Here is another rock ballad; this one is co-composed by the ultra talented Yitzy Waldner and Mendy. They also share the vocals on the song as well. The arrangements by Eli Lishinsky and Nir Graff are once again masterful. They have a way to make this song so easy to listen to, but at the same time drive so much energy into the song.
Eishes Chayil- Usually the masses would advise not placing 2 slow songs one after another. I applaud Mendy for not worrying about conventional thinking and for sharing his nicest songs with us in the manner he wants to! This song, a ballad composed by Mendy and Yitzy Schwartz, also starts very soft, but the arrangements build up more than the previous song. The trumpet and saxophone solos are very nice, as is the choir led by Eli Laufer. Yitzy Schwartz does a real fine job with the musical arrangements, and I especially like the ending.
Borei Olom- Anyone who knows my personal preferences already knows I am not into techno music. Saying that, this song is a very interesting mix that doesn’t only sound like it’s techno music. The song itself is a nice song, and I enjoyed it. The choir and background vocals by choir master Shloime Kaufman add a lot to the song and overall arrangement of the song. I also must say that the musical arrangements of the song by Shai Bachar, while not my personal favorite style, are very well done. This is also the song where I pinpointed who Mendy sounds like: Shea Rubenstein.
Tzitzis- This is another beautiful Mendy W. and Yitzy Schwartz collaboration, with the choir directed by Yoel Dikman. The song starts with an oompah feel and transitions first to a disco beat and then into more of a funky beat, before going back to a disco beat. I really like the arrangements and intros on this song.
Mendy’s Instrumental- This is an interesting song that is completely instrumental (despite there being a choir mentioned on the credits). The song is composed solely by Mendy and arranged by Yitzy Schwartz. The style of the song has a Middle Eastern hora feel to it and also has some techno thrown in. This is a song I would expect to find on an album titled “Easy Listening” or “Relaxing Music”, which seems to be a theme on this album, and a good one for that!
Broken Hearts- Get out your box of tissues (or a hankie if you so desire) before listening to this song, because you will need it. With this song being in memory of Mendy’s recently deceased mother, there is understandably a ton of emotion dripping from every word of the song. Add to it Yitzy Schwartz’s arrangements (and I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes more of a sought after arranger after this album) and Yitzy Spinner’s masterful background vocals (and Yitzy is an amazing talent who can transform anything he touches to greater heights) this is as powerful of a song as I’ve heard in long time!
In conclusion, I don’t really have much to add except to recommend that you buy this album either at Mostly Music (http://www.mostlymusic.com/v-ani-tefilosi.html) or anywhere good Jewish Music is sold.