OutOfTowner Reviews Hearts Mind by Eli Schwebel

CDs, Music, Reviews — By on April 11, 2014 7:49 am

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How often does an album come out in the Jewish Music scene that transcends the Jewish Music scene both in style and substance? The answer is not very often. Eli Schwebel has done something amazing with his recently released his debut solo album Hearts Mind. I am not sure if I can define this album by one specific genre but I know that in this review I will not be able to predict that any song on this album will be the next hit freilich, horah, rock or dinner music favorite on the wedding circuit. This album is a breath of fresh air to those who are looking for something different than your typical Jewish Music release today. Eli, the son of Dveykus legend Rivi Schwebel, and himself a successful and popular performer in the group Lev Tahor, has worked on this album for a number of years and this is his style and talent at its best. Eli has his partners in collaboration but he is involved with the composing and arranging of the album himself. The songs and lyrics are deep, intense and personal. My one issue with the album is that it’s too short! Being that the styles and lyrics are so complex, I am not going to give a song by song assessment but rather a synopsis of the song and my brief opinion of the meaning of the song.

Here we go:

We Are One- The song starts slow and builds up into a toe tapping tune as it progresses. This is a deep song about a person who feels lonely and misunderstood before finding himself and realizing that our differences don’t really separate us from each other.

Aibeshter- Eli’s take off of the famous Tzlil V’zemer hit. This haunting song talks about the pain of losing people we love and the memories fading.

Yagga- instead of me trying to explain this song if you really want to understand what this album is about, go download this song for free (it was released as a single prior to the whole album going on sale). While you dance around listening to this song, you’ll get an appreciation for Eli and the whole album. You can download the song here: http://www.mostlymusic.com/yagga.html

Like The Sea- This is a cute song about a person (in other words Eli) finding himself in life. As a complex individual it seems he’s traveled a long road and finding himself was quite a journey. Just like this song!

Ani Yosef- This seems like a song with the same theme as the last song but that he’s found himself and feels free now. The tone of the song is more somber but probably more of a relief than sadness.

Rose Like Me- This pop song talks about our parents guiding us and helping us find our way but in the end it’s up to us to find our way and follow what Hashem has in store for us.

Don’t Stop Giving Love- Another toe tapping tune…just read the title of the song and it makes all the sense in the world!

Shabbos Takes Me Home- This song really hits home. How many of us feel like we’re running in circles and just need to take a breath. Shabbos is that day we have each week to let us breath and get our footing. A day in Eli’s words, to “feed my soul!”

Shtai Auf!- Literally meaning stand up, this song is telling us that we can’t remain in 1 place but we need to always be in motion. Spirituality doesn’t stand still. I am out of breath just listening to this song!

I Just Wana Be Me (Nili Me Li)- In actuality can anyone be someone other than themselves? It truth though, plenty of people are expected to be what they really aren’t! Thankfully for all of us music lovers, Eli has found himself and his music shows!

In conclusion, I know this isn’t the comprehensive review I usually write but an album like this doesn’t need so many words written about it and I feel the more I write the more I take away from its brilliance. I totally recommend this album! It is available online at http://www.mostlymusic.com/hearts-mind.html and wherever quality Jewish Music is sold!

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5 Comments

  1. Meir says:

    Out of Towner,
    Its three days before Pesach, how do you have time for all these reviews???
    Seriously though, my initial reaction to the CD was “huh?” but after a few listens and paying attention to the lyrics I have to agree that this album is a refreshing addition to the music scene. In general albums that are produced by the artist and do not have the same six composers, arrangers and musicians as every other album on mostly music.com have a little more to offer. They are a little more organic than the standard offering.
    Thanks for the great review.
    Chag Kosher V’samach,
    Meir

  2. OutOfTowner says:

    Meir, 1st of all, hi! I hope to see you around over Yom Tov! 2nd, you know I’m not making yom tov myself! And 3rd, just because it’s posting now doesn’t mean I just wrote it today! :-)

  3. Meir says:

    Out of Towner,
    I agree that the “Shabbos” track is a unique composition. Why do other Jewish music superstars have such a hard time with an English song while others (8th Day, Abie Rottenberg, Avraham Rosenblum etc.)can produce album after album of English songs with six or seven excellent tracks?
    Question, I feel like Eli went to great lengths to produce an album that does not sound like his father’s work. Obviously there are vocal similarities between the two, but their styles are markedly different.
    Some of his lyrics (i. e. finding himself…not behaving a certain way just because other people are looking and expect it etc.) seem to address this.
    Am I over analyzing his music?
    Best,
    Meir

  4. OutOfTowner says:

    I think that English songs are very different in styles by nature (you’re not just singing words to a possuk) and the same can be said for the yiddish or Ivrit songs. Some people feel more comfortable singing that style and some don’t. Same thing with composers. It’s just different.

    As far as Eli, I think it’s pretty well documented that he was looking to produce something with his own personal style imprinted in it and not to just go with the flow! That was Lev Tahor!

  5. GPL says:

    I think what sets Eli Schwebel’s music apart is that it is PERSONAL. His music speaks from a very deep place, and this style is virtually non-existent in the genre of Orthodox Jewish music. If you think about it, most of the music in the genre is markedly IMPERSONAL. The songs from pesukim and liturgy are limited by their specific lyrics and phrasing, and the English songs very rarely speak from the singer’s standpoint. They are usually stories about other people, or songs that convey a lesson or message about a particular aspect of Yiddishkeit. But more often than not, the message is disconnected from the singer.

    With this album, I feel that Eli defies that convention and speaks about his own feelings, uses his own name (in Like the Sea), and pours out his Heart and Mind for the listeners to truly feel who he is, not just the message he wishes to impart.

    I remember a video interview with Shalsheles from a few years back, in which the members admitted that they usually shy away from English songs because “All the themes have been done before, and English songs are hard to write” or something to that effect. While I am a fan of Shalsheles, I could not disagree more with that sentiment. If Yiddishkeit is true, and speaks to you personally, why can’t you write and sing about it in various different forms? I believe that is the reason why 8th Day is so successful, having released 3 full English albums in the past 3 years. They have creative minds and are able to convey a Jewish message for just about any area of life. Same goes for artists such as Lenny Solomon, Gershon Veroba, Sam Glaser and less recently, Abie Rotenberg.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed Eli Schwebel’s new album, and hope it will open a new avenue of creativity and originality in Jewish Music

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