Musical Arrangements, Production Make Dom La Nena’s New LP Worth Hearing At Least Once

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Up-and-coming composer/singer/songwriter Dom La Nena is scheduled to release her latest album Friday through Six Degrees Records.  Her third solo album, the 13-song Tempo is a unique addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  While the musical content that is featured in the album gives listeners reason to take in the record, its lyrical content proves somewhat problematic.  This will be addressed a little later.  The album’s production works with its musical arrangements to give more appeal to its presentation.  When those two elements are paired, they do just enough to make the album worth hearing at least once.

Dom La Nena’s new album Tempo is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.  That intrigue comes in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are not what one might think of when one thinks of the genre in the purest sense.  Rather, they are in fact more of a purely artistic presentation.  La Nena, who was born in Brazil, but lives in Paris, does not necessarily try to use elements of either nation’s musical culture for her compositions here.  Rather, she paints a musical picture with her experimental works, that few if any other World Music offerings can compare to beginning with the album’s title track/opener.  ‘Tempo’ comes across as a sort of modern classical work.  It features La Nena on cello and piano, each part clearly recorded by itself and then mixed together.  Interestingly enough, the short instrumental work conjures thoughts of a composition crafted for some British mystery TV show or movie.  On another note, ‘Quien Podra Saberlo’ (which translates roughly to ‘Who Could Know’) layers  La Nena’s vocals while incorporating a light string arrangement and some light hand claps to give the song a sound and style that harkens back to the gypsy style works of Eastern Europe.  There is almost a sense of mystery exuded through the song’s arrangement.  That mindset is sure to keep listeners engaged in this case.  ‘Samba Para Voce’ is another example of how La Nena’s musical compositions defy the term “World Music.”  This gentle, flowing, string-driven arrangement throws back to certain jazz style compositions from the 1960s.  It really is a unique composition that one must hear to fully understand.  Between this song and the others featured throughout Tempo, the arrangements in whole give audiences much to appreciate.

While the musical arrangements featured in Tempo build a strong foundation for the record, the record’s lyrical content detracts somewhat from its presentation.  The lyrics are problematic because they are sung in three separate languages – French, Spanish, and Portugese.  This is problematic for audiences on both sides of Atlantic.  That is the case because no translations are provided for any of the songs anywhere in the packaging.  That means any American audiences who don’t speak any of those languages will have to guess at the meanings behind the songs’ titles after they translate those items.  It also means audiences in either of her home nations who perhaps only speak French or Portugese will only know the lyrics to those songs.  What’s more, those who speak Spanish will only understand those noted songs.  Simply put, the lack of any written lyrics or even translations thereof hinders the delivery of the songs’ messages.  That is discouraging, but not enough to make the album a failure.  It just means that it will limit the album’s appeal to a point.  Making up for that shortfall is the record’s production.

The arrangements featured throughout Tempo are relatively simple in their instrumentations.  Even being relatively simple, the songs still require just as much attention as any more complex composition.  Case in point is the simple, short ‘Valsa.’  The ‘Waltz’ tune is just an instrumental which features La Nena playing pizzicato on her cello against a piano line, her layered vocals and andante style bowing.  The layering of these elements and the dynamics of it all required its own share of time and attention to ensure everything was balanced.  Those painstaking efforts paid off, too. The end result is a song that while short, has so much impact in its own right.  ‘Teu Coracao’ is another example of the importance and impact of the record’s production.  It is another gentle, simple composition, composed of La Nena’s vocal delivery and some very simple string backing along with some other ethereal elements.  Even with so little instrumentation, there is still a lot going on here that creates the song’s general effect.  The attention paid to the dynamics and balancing each element makes the song so rich even in its simplicity.  The same applies for ‘Vejo Passar’ and the rest of the album’s works.  Each song is relatively simple in its approach, meaning it would have been so easy for those behind the glass to get lax in working through each song.  Luckily that did not happen.  The result is an album that is just as worth hearing because of its professional production as for its musical content.  Even with the concern over the lack of any lyrical translations still there, the songs and their production is just enough to make the album worth hearing at least once.

Dom La Neda’s new album Tempo is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of listeners.  From fans of an artist, such as Ala.ni, to World Music fans, to La Nena’s own fans, the record will find plenty of appeal.  That is due in large part to its musical arrangements.  While the record’s arrangements do much to make the record appealing, its lack of lyrical translations detracts from the album’s presentation to a point.  That is especially considering that the songs are sung in three different languages.  The production of the noted arrangements works with the songs to make for a little more appeal.  When the two elements are joined, they do just enough to make the record worth hearing at least once, even despite the concern raised by the lyrical problems.  Tempo is scheduled for release Friday through Six Degrees Records.

More information on Tempo is available along with all of Dom La Nena’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.domlanena.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/DomLaNena

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/domlanena

To keep  up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.   

Jake Allen Debuts ‘On The Run’ Video

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Independent singer-songwriter Jake Allen debuted the video for his latest single this week.

Allen debuted the video for his single ‘On The Run‘ Monday. The video’s debut comes more than a month after Allen debuted the single by itself.

‘On The Run’ is the second single from Allen’s latest album Affirmation Day, which recently released through Six Degrees Records. Allen debuted the album’s lead single, ‘Rising Tide‘ and its video Aug. 28.

The video for ‘On The Run’ features a couple making its way across the country, first tricking someone at a bank and taking the victim’s money before heading out on the run. As the couple drives across the country, a second scenario plays out involving a politician and his female advisor, who herself ends up being tricked by the politician.

The visuals are used to help illustrate the song’s lyrical message about how we as a people are being fleeced, which Allen discussed in a recent interview.

“I wanted to make something that acknowledged both the subtle and overt forms of con artistry we witness within the world,” he said. “From the slight of hand to the blatantly obvious, this Bonnie and Clyde like, trickster duo takes on different faces and preys on their distracted victims. It’s a timely narrative to me.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t doubt we are under many more spells than we realize,” he added. “In the video, much like in the real world, the tricksters always end up robbing only themselves in this evil feeds evil feedback loop.” 

The musical arrangement featured in ‘On The Run’ will appeal to fans of John Mayer.  That is due to Allen’s finger picking style and his vocal delivery style.  The song’s lyrical theme comes across as an introspective piece that centers on the all-too-familiar topic of a romantic relationship.

According to Allen, creating the video was an enjoyable experience.

“It was fun getting into the headspace of these corrupt and somewhat comical villains, especially Jerry Allen,” he said. “He’s a very sick man with a childish obsession for money. The extreme characters are an exaggeration of the identity detours within the song.”

More information on Jake Allen’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.jakeallenmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/jakeallenmusic

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and review in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Allen’s Success Continues In His Fourth Full-Length Studio Recording

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Independent singer-songwriter Jake Allen is scheduled to release his new album Friday. Allen’s fourth full-length studio recording, Affirmation Day is a 56-minute presentation that is full of deeply emotional compositions that will appeal easily to fans of John Mayer just as much as they will to fans of the emo world.  This sounds like an odd juxtaposition, but it truly is the case here.  The fruition of Allen’s recent global travels, the 12-song record will have its own longevity, as it will take many listens for audiences to get to the point in which they start picking their favorite songs.  One of the most notable of the album’s songs is its most recent single, ‘On The Run.’  It will be examined shortly.  ‘Things We’ll Never Find,’ which comes later in the record’s run, is another example of how much the album has to offer audiences.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Clear,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another notable entry in this latest offering from Allen.  It will also be discussed later.  When these three songs are considered with the rest of Affirmation Day’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation that audiences are sure to find quite endearing.

Jake Allen’s fourth full-length studio recording, Affirmation Day, is a presentation that will move audiences from beginning to end.  That is proven through its musical and lyrical contents throughout, not the least point of which being the album’s latest single, ‘On The Run.’  The song’s musical arrangement takes a minimalist approach while also using Allen’s signature finger picking style.  The subdued vibe of the overall arrangement serves to illustrate the seeming theme of a romantic relationship that is presented in the song’s lyrical side.

The noted seeming theme is inferred right from the song’s lead verse as Allen sings, “It’s been keeping me awake/All the heart that you put into the smiles that you fake/It’s been weighing on my soul/All the strength that I’ve lost/To find a way to gain control/through the lens of an untrained eye/if the life I’m searching for/is the life that I want to find.”  It is inferred just as much in the song’s second verse, which finds Allen singing, “So how can I erase/That mirage in your eyes/On an unreachable place/’Cause when I give myself to you/there’s so much you don’t take/Even when you say you do/So how can I be sure/Under reign of a fallen star/If who you say you are/is who you really are.”  The song’s chorus puts the final touch to the nod argument.  That is because Allen sings, “So I’ll always be on the run/’Til the world shows me who to become/But if only I’d ever need a friend/I would run to be with you/Until I run away again.”  This leaves no doubt as to the song’s lyrical theme.  The way in which Allen presents the topic is familiar, but not overly so.  It is still is a somewhat original, poetic presentation that will move listeners, especially when it is considered along with the song’s musical arrangement.  Keeping both sides of the song in mind, they make the song just one example of what makes Affirmation Day worth hearing.  ‘Things We’ll Never Find’ is another of the album’s positive points.

‘Things We’ll Never Find’ presents a musical arrangement that once again presents the noted John Mayer influence, but also features a touch of emo influence.  Speaking more specifically, the song presents a sound similar to that of works from early Jimmy Eat World.  That is the case both in its softer moments and in its more energetic chorus.  It sounds like an odd combination in itself, but it works here in its own way.  What is interesting about this catchy pop-rock presentation is that it is an interesting counter to the song’s seeming lyrical theme.

The lyrical theme that ‘Things We’ll Never Find’ comes across as being one of those familiar metaphorical works that addresses the issue of love found and lost.  It hints at the old adage that ‘‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’  That is most clearly inferred in the song’s chorus, which finds Allen singing, “You took my hand in such a radiant scene/With a face that only manifests in dreams/You slipped right through my fingers/Now your voice is gone/But the song plays on for good.”  As Allen transitions into the song’s second verse, he adds, “So can we let go of these gifts we’ve left behind/And find understanding in the things we have/And the things we’ll never find.”  The song that he mentions playing on for good is addressed in the song’s lead verse, in which Allen sings, “Late at night/A melody came/But in the morning/It just didn’t sound the same/It slipped through my fingers.”  Here again is that seeming statement about love found, but lost, but the addition of the song’s musical arrangement to the presentation gives the song a unique touch.  It does not take the standard oh-woe-is-me route thanks to that wording and musical presentation.  Rather, it takes a more positive outlook.  This is something that plenty of audiences will appreciate.  Keeping this in mind along with the appeal of ‘On The Run,’ the two songs collectively even more what makes Allen’s new album appealing.  They are just a portion of what makes the record worth hearing, too.  ‘Clear,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is one more of the album’s positive points.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Clear’ shows even more of an emo influence than that of ‘Things We’ll Never Find.’  Adding to that is that unlike the noted song, the Jimmy Eat World influence is replaced here with something more along the lines of Yellowcard and Simple Plan in an acoustic vein.  To that end, this expands the album’s appeal even more.  When this is considered along with the song’s lyrical content, that appeal and interest grows that much more.

The lyrical content that accompanies this song’s upbeat musical arrangement is so interesting because it seems to present the theme of learning to let go.  This does not have to necessarily relate to the topic of a breakup.  It could also connect to the issue of letting go of a loved one who has died.  This is inferred as Allen sings, “So vivid I remember/the day you said goodbye/Your fading eyes saw through me/And gazed up to the skies/And I though of stories/Allegories to find some higher view/But between the thoughts was/Where I lost the fiction and found the truth.”  The seeming message becomes clearer in the song’s second verse, as Allen sings, “So I hold on to that image/The last of you I saw/The final look you gave me/The ending to it all/An incarnation’s set duration is so ambiguous/Do we shy and falter/Or try to alter the frame of what this is.”  The song’s third and final verse hints even more at the noted theme, as Allen sings, “So I’m pushing my heart into/A disillusioned place/And freeing myself from all these/Fragile thoughts of holding on/So to see your transformation through unconditioned eyes/It’s funny to believe that/You could ever say goodbye.”  That final statement about a person having to come to terms with someone “saying goodbye” either in person or metaphorically (when they die), the noted message gains even more ground.  Again, the semi-upbeat musical arrangement that accompanies the song’s lyrical content makes for its own interesting listen.  When the two sides are coupled, they make song even more powerful, as it seems to present a sense of accepting the noted loss, regardless of the situation.  It reminds listeners that loss does not have to be entirely bad.  It’s yet another way in which the album shows its strength.  When the song is considered with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album becomes a unique presentation that is another success from Allen.

Jake Allen’s fourth new album Affirmation Day is a positive new offering that audiences will themselves affirm is worth hearing.  That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content alike.  Each of the songs examined in this review support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole becomes a work that continues Allen’s ongoing success yet again. 

More information on Jake Allen’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.jakeallenmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/jakeallenmusic

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and review in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jake Allen Debuts New Single, ‘On The Run’

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Independent singer-songwriter Jake Allen debuted his latest single over the weekend.

Allen debuted his new single ‘On The Run‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from Allen’s forthcoming album Affirmation Day — his fourth album — which is scheduled for release Oct. 16 through Six Degrees Records.  The single’s release comes a month after Allen debuted the album’s lead single, ‘Rising Tide.’

The musical arrangement featured in ‘On The Run’ will appeal to fans of John Mayer.  That is due to Allen’s finger picking style and his vocal delivery style.  The song’s lyrical theme comes across as an introspective piece that centers on the all-too-familiar topic of a romantic relationship.

As with the album’s other songs, this song was inspired by Allen’s experiences in his most recent tours of Europe, Russia, China and Japan.  He noted of ‘Rising Tide’ for example, the song “is about the encounters I’ve had throughout my world travels that have shined a light on certain human conditions, and even more so, the American condition. This deeply embedded idea of progress by any means necessary kept bothering me. It’s disappointing to see people out there bulldozing their way to success without thinking about who and what they’re hurting along the way. This song just acknowledges that tendency and tries to be a reminder of its imminent consequences. Everybody has their own rising tides in their lives. Can we catch them before they drown us is real challenge we face.”

Pre-orders are open for Affirmation Day.  Allen is donating 20 percent of proceeds from pre-order sales and online merchandise sales to the Live Blue Foundation. The agency focuses on the impact of water on a person’s mental health.

The track listing for Affirmation Day is noted below.

Track Listing

  1. Affirmation Day
  2. More Than Meets The Eye
  3. Only You
  4. On The Run
  5. Living Ghost
  6. Prague 6
  7. Clear
  8. Rising Tide
  9. Indigo Son
  10. Things We’ll Never Find
  11. Two Faced
  12. I’ll See You On The Other Side

More information on Jake Allen’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.jakeallenmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jakeallenmusic

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and review in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

 

‘Yiddish Glory’ Proves To Be A Powerful History Lesson From World War II

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Compilations containing classic songs from World War II are, sadly, a dime a dozen in today’s music industry.  From the Glenn Miller Band’s ‘In The Mood’ and ‘American Patrol’ to Anne Shelton’s ‘Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer’ to Irving Berlin’s ‘This Is The Army Mr. Jones’ and more, the songs that got Americans through the war are plentiful to say the least.  What about the songs that got other groups and nations through the stresses and misery of World War II?  Those recordings are much less prevalent here in the states.  This past February though, Six Degrees Records finally released one of those rarities in the form of Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II, giving audiences a brand new glimpse into some very rare songs composed by Russian Jews during the war.  This new 18-song compilation is an absolute must have for any WWII history buff just as much as it is for World music aficionados and history buffs in general.  Not only that, but it is also simply an important historical artifact of sorts from that era.  That is due in no small part to the history behind the songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The songs themselves obviously cannot be ignored, so they will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out the most important of its elements.  When it is considered along with the songs and the history behind them, the whole of these elements makes Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II a decidedly significant musical find that music historians, WWII history buffs and history lovers in general will appreciate.

Six Degrees Records’ new musical history presentation Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is one of the most significant historical musical collections to be released to the masses in a very long time.  It is a collection that music historians, WWII history buffs and history lovers in general will appreciate.  That is due in no small part to the history behind the album and its songs.  The songs were originally composed by Jews across Europe including Russian Jews who were forced into the Russian Army, refugees and survivors of the Ukranian ghetto. Work on the collection started during WWII when ethnomusicologist Moiei Beregovsky led a group of scholars in an effort to preserve the noted songs.  The group was arrested after the war during Lenin’s anti-Jewish purge, and its collective work confiscated.  Fast forward to the early 2000s, when University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis visited Kiev and discovered the group’s research had survived its confiscation decades earlier.  After many more years of work with artist Psoy Korolenko and Producer Dan Rosenberg, this album was finally finished, and its once lost songs finally returned to their original glory with new performers to bring them back to life.  Considering that this is the first time that these songs have been released to the masses since their initial creation so many decades ago, it really makes hearing them something special, even considering that they were resurrected by new performers.  That story makes taking in this compilation that much more enjoyable and even moving.  Keeping this in mind, the story of the album’s creation, while it forms a solid foundation for the album, is only one of its key elements.  The songs themselves are just as important to note as the story behind their resurrection.

The songs that make up the body of Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II are key to its presentation because of the subject matter and emotion within each work and even more so because of their messages.  Those messages are warnings against fascism, making it clearly relevant in today’s society.  As Shternshis noted in a discussion about the songs, “The songs come to us from people, whose perspectives are rarely heard in reconstructing history, none of them professional poets or musicians, but all at the center of the most important historical event of the 20th century, and making sense of it through music.” Two of the songs outright attack Hitler and his actions through its words.  Those songs are ‘Misha Tears Apart Hitler’s Germany’ and ‘Purim Gifts For Hitler.’  That latter of the pair makes reference to the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the Jews’ escape from Haman’s planned massacre.  This is not a World War II reference, but rather a reference to a much older incident from Jewish history.  Understanding the history behind Purim and the celebrations therein, one is led to believe that the song was meant as a sort of lyrical thumbing of the nose to Hitler since, just like Hanan, Hitler wanted to wipe out the Jews.  The songs addressing Hitler and his atrocities are not the album’s only important additions.  ‘Kazakhstan’ seems to be a musical and lyrical love letter to another Jew’s homeland.  The almost mournful tone of the song (both through the arrangement and the vocal delivery) creates such a deep, emotional impact here.  The same can be said of the arrangement and delivery of ‘My Mother’s Grave,’ which one is left to assume was written by the orphan noted in the album’s companion booklet.  Of course, for all of the more deeply emotional pieces on the negative end, there are also more celebratory songs, including the fittingly-titled ‘Victory Song,’ ‘Haman’s Defeat,’ and ‘Happy New Year 1944.’  Their positive vibes are just as powerful as the depth of emotion in the more melancholy works, and fittingly they are saved for the album’s final section.  That placement plays into the last of the album’s most important elements – its sequencing.

The sequencing of Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is important to discuss because it shows a seemingly intentionally set timeline.  That timeline opens with the laid back ‘On High Mountain.’  The album’s mood clearly changes in each song as the album progresses, eventually coming full circle from the pain of the Nazi occupation and the connected atrocities to their freedom from that suffering in the final three songs.  That emotional journey on which the album takes listeners will move some to tears both of joy and sadness even without translation of the lyrics.  By the end of the story presented through these songs, listeners will agree that they have experienced something very special.  It is a musical journey but a journey into another age told so powerfully through music.  When the power in that journey is joined with the power in this compilation’s history and the songs themselves, the whole of those elements makes this collection more than just another musical compilation.  Rather, it makes the record an important overall story from WWII that deserved and needed to be told, even being told through a group of stories.  It is a collection that music historians, WWII history buffs, and students and lovers of history in general must have in their music libraries.  It is easily one of this year’s top new albums overall, keeping all of this in mind.

Six Degrees Records’ recently released musical history presentation Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is one of the most important presentations that has come along in years for students and lovers of history, WWII history and music history.  It is a presentation that each of those noted audiences should have in his or her own music library.  That is due in part to the history behind the compilation, which is deep in itself.  The songs and their own stories couples with that history and joins with the obviously well-thought-out sequencing to make the album in whole an unforgettable recording that will hopefully lead to even more music being discovered in the years to come.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Six Degrees Records is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.sixdegreesrecords.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sixdegreesrecords

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sixdegreesrcrds

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Six Degrees Records To Release New Musical History Compilation Next Month

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

Six Degree Records has unearthed a very special piece of musical history, and will release the recording next month.

Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of World War II will be released Friday, Feb. 23.  The recording features new takes of 18 Jewish songs originally crafted by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust as well as Jewish Red Army soldiers and Jewish refugees.  Work on the collection started during WWII when ethnomusicologist Moiei Beregovsky led a group of scholars in an effort to preserve the noted songs.

The group was arrested after the war during Lenin’s anti-Jewish purge, and its collective work confiscated.  Fast forward to the early 2000s, when University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis visited Kiev and discovered the group’s research had survived its confiscation decades earlier.  After many more years of work with artist Psoy Korolenko and Producer Dan Rosenberg, Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of World War II was finally created.

The recording features performances of the vintage musical compositions by a new group of individuals including vocalist Sophie Milman, famed violinist Sergei Eredenko and others.  The songs themselves pay homage to the Holocaust victims while also serving as warnings against fascism, making it clearly relevant in today’s society.  As Shternshis noted in an interview about the compilation, “Yiddish Glory gives voice to Jewish children, women, refugees whose lives were shattered by horrific violence of World War II.”

Shternshis added, “The songs come to us from people, whose perspectives are rarely heard in reconstructing history, none of them professional poets or musicians, but all at the center of the most important historical event of the 20th century, and making sense of it through music.  I cannot be more excited and humbled by this project that brings their voices back to life.”

The rarely heard Russian Jewish compositions featured in this collection are only one part of what makes it stands out.  Along with those songs, the compilation also features a 40+-page booklet rich with archival images, notes by Sternshis and equally extensive lyrics and liner notes.

Shternshis will be speaking publicly about Yiddish Glory alongside contributing musician Psoy Korolenko, who will perform some of the songs featured in the compilation.  The currently scheduled dates are noted below.

February 20 2018 – University of Irvine, Irvine CA.
February 21 2018 – Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
February 22 2018  – Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. 
April 8- 9 2018 – Centre for Jewish History New York, NY (keynote presentation on this project)
April 22-23 2018 University of Purdue, West Laffayette, IN.
May 7, 2018 – Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
*More dates will be announced soon.
More information on this and other titles from Six Degrees Records is available online now at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Zmei3’s Debut LP Boasts Plenty Of Substance And Soul

Courtesy:  Six Degrees Records

Courtesy: Six Degrees Records

One year ago or so this critic finally took the first leap into the vast realm of World music. It was a whole new experience needless to say.  That is because it literally took this critic around the globe without ever leaving home.  There was music from Australia, Iran, Cuba, Canada, and so many other points around the world.  The different styles of music and lyrical themes presented in those records proved to be just as vast as the nations from which the acts hailed.  That number of nations has grown seemingly exponentially this year with the styles and lyrical themes growing just as much.  Israel, Haiti, Western Sahara, and Brazil have already been represented this year, with music from Estonia, Jamaica, Puerto Rico on the way.  Before making those musical trips, though, we need to make a trip back overseas to Romania.  So get out those passports, everyone.  Late last month the Romanian quartet Zmei3 (pronounced zmay tray) released its debut album Rough Romanian Soul.  The group was able to raise nearly $27,000 for the record’s production via crowd funding.  In listening to the fifteen-song recording it is safe to say that said funds were well spent both by fans and by the band.  The mix of the album’s original sound and its equally insightful lyrical content makes it a record that stands out from so many of its counterparts in the World music community.  This is evident early on in the form of the album’s third song ‘2 Mai.’  This translates in English to ‘2nd of May.’  This will be discussed shortly.  ‘Poveste Din Tara Mea’ (‘Story From My Country’) is another good example of what makes Rough Romanian Soul stand out in this year’s field of new World music offerings thanks to its own mix of music and lyrics.  That will be discussed later.  Last but hardly least of note in this album is ‘Vreau Un Barbat’ or ‘I Want A Man.’  Its frantic energy and equally biting commentary in its lyrics will have listeners laughing on both sides of the gender line.  It is hardly the last song that could cited in explaining what makes Rough Romanian Soul stand out in this year’s World music field.  ‘Shhh!!!…tot Ce Nu Se Spunea Atunci’ (Shhh!!!…All The Forbidden Speech’ ) with its largely instrumental approach, ‘Vis (Dream’) with its mournful arrangement, and ‘Ah!’ (Ay!’) with its traditional Romanian sound and equally smooth lyrics (which one could easily see being sung from a male vantage point) could all be cited just as easily in explaining what makes this record stand out.  Whether for those songs, the pieces more directly noted, or those not noted, the record in whole can be argued to be one of the year’s most original and creative new World music offerings.

Rough Romanian Soul is one of the most original and creative new offerings from the World music field so far this year.  That is due largely to its mix of original musical compositions and equally insightful lyrical themes.  From one song to the next, this fifteen-song sixty-nine minute record leaves listeners guessing what will come next in both aspects.  By the time the whole thing ends, listeners will be left knowing that they have experienced something unlike what they’ve ever heard before American or otherwise.  They will be left knowing that they have heard a record that is one of this year’s best new World music offerings.  One of the songs that proves this argument comes early in the album’s run in the form of ‘2 Mai.’  The band notes of this song on its official website that he song is centered on a village on the Black Sea coast that served as a safe place for hippies who wanted to escape the limitations of the communist regime in the region.  According to the song’s lyrical content, the town in question was known as Baragan.  It is sung from the vantage point of one of those subjects that was trying to get away from the ruling regime.  Front woman Paula Turcas’ puts herself into the subjects’ shoes as she sings, “Tonight I’ll leave/To the east/To my sea/Driving far through the night/Butterflies smash on my window/I’m getting lost in Baragan/The moon is silver on the road/A star is rising from the east/I’m turning up the volume/The music/The city burns behind me/But I’m already somewhere else/I crossed the Danube in Dobrogea/When I entered/There was in the village/A forgotten dance/A strange dance.”  Turcas’ subject goes on to sing in the song’s second verse of the joy felt by the person as he/she feels in apparently having met someone special in arriving at the village.  It is an interesting story to say the least.  What’s interesting to note is that both Dobrogea and Baragan are indeed real places.  The story might be fictional.  But it is based entirely in real Romanian history.  This includes the rule of the Romanian Communist Party over much of the region.  The Romanian Communist Party existed in the region for nearly seventy years from 1921 – 1989.  Considering all of this and the party’s history, that factual basis actually makes the song all the more interesting if only in its lyrical aspect.  The song’s musical arrangement plays its own important part in the song’s presentation.  The arrangement opens with a steady, percussive rhythm established by the band members clapping.  That clapping remains throughout most of the song.  That is because it serves as the foundation of the song’s musical arrangement.  Turcas’ gentle vocal delivery works perfectly with the song’s lyrical content.  It really serves to bring out the emotion being felt by the song’s subject in evading the Romanian Communist Party’s iron rule on the region.  Oli Bott’s work on the vibraphone couples with Turcas’ vocals to deepen that emotion even more.  All three elements combine together with the song’s lyrical content and its historical basis to make a whole that is, again, one of the album’s most notable compositions.  It is not the album’s only notable composition either.  The album’s very next song ‘Poveste Din Tara Mea’ (‘Story From My Country’) is another of the album’s notable offerings.

‘2 Mai’ (‘2nd of May’) is in itself a key example of what makes Rough Romanian Soul stand out in this year’s World music field.  The mix of its thoughtful lyrics and equally moving musical content makes it one of the record’s most memorable songs.  It is not the album’s only notable offering.  ‘Poveste Din Tara Mea’ (‘Story From My Country’ is another important addition to the album’s presentation.  The band notes of the song on its official website that it “is about the feelings of an immigrant who left behind everything that he loved. A father is telling his little girl that she should never forget that there’s a country, a lost paradise, and that one day they will seek revenge on those who destroyed it.”  The song’s musical arrangement does a wonderful job in itself of bringing that story to life.  The arrangement is led by the bittersweet, almost mournful sound established by guitarist Mihai Victor Iliescu.  Percussionist Oli Bott’s work on the vibes is so subtle here.  But that subtlety adds even more depth to the song, believe it or not.   Turcas’ vocal delivery adds even more power to its impact as she gives life to the grandfather.  One can almost see vividly the older gentleman kneeling down to speak to his daughter, telling her about her family’s heritage and homeland, singing, “ My child/I’m gonna tell you something/Only you will hear it/Outside it’s cold and windy/I only have one thought/When you were born/Far away in your land/Forests and mountains were growing in your way/You had a dream in your land/But something else was written for you/You believed in her/My beautiful darling/It’s time to walk on the road/Behind us only smoke.”  From here, the song’s story remains just as vivid and painful.  The father tells his daughter of all that used to be and the importance of regaining that land.”  He is telling all of this as they enter a new land (regardless of which country).  So he is trying to be gentle and to hide his pain of having to leave their homeland but is struggling to do so.  It is such a tragic story.  Ironically the approach used both in regards to the song’s lyrical and musical approach makes that tragedy something beautiful.  That juxtaposition of tragedy and hope all mixed together makes this song just one more of this record’s most important compositions.  It is hardly the last of the songs that could be cited in exhibiting what makes this album stand out.  ‘Vreau Un Barbat (‘I Want A Man’) is one more key example of what makes Rough Romanian Soul anything but rough.

Both ‘2 Mai’ and ‘Poveste Din Tara Mea’ are key inclusions to Zmei3’s debut album.  That is exhibited through both the musical and lyrical content of each song.  As important as both songs are in the album’s bigger picture, they are not the album’s only key inclusions.  ‘Vreau Un Barbat’ (‘I Want a Man’) is one more of the album’s most notable compositions.  As with the previously noted songs, this is proven once more through the combination of the song’s musical and lyrical content.  It is a very up-tempo composition in regards to its musical content driven largely by Bott’s work on the vibraphone and band mate Arnulf Ballhorn’s work on the bass.  The very percussive feel of Turcas’ vocal delivery plays its own part in that whole, too.  That is important to note when one takes a look at the song’s lyrical content and sets it against said musical content.  Turcas sings in a certain biting commentary here that she doesn’t want some overly sensitive man who is more caught up in his own looks than her.  She sings, “Is this a woman or a man/Excuse me/Excuse me for asking/He’s sensitive and perfumed/Excuse me/And with delicate skin/The skin is now too sensitive/Love becomes impossible/Impossible/Is he a woman or is he a man/Excuse me/Excuse me for asking/I wonder what happened/Where is the last man/Yeah.”  She goes on, expressing her wit even more noting his display of emotions and his narcissism, noting “He has feelings to display/Excuse me/The man is busy/Now he has a selfie to post/Excuse me/On the lovely profile.”  The biting wit doesn’t stop here.  It runs through the rest of the song without letting up.   The tone in Turas’ voice as she sings about this kind of man is a playful yet biting, sarcastic tone that is sure to put a playful smirk on any listener’s face and laugh in those same listeners’ mouths.  That entertainment—thanks to Turcas’ sharp lyrics and delivery, and her band mates’ own talent—shows exactly why in whole this song is one more important addition to Zmei3’s debut album.  The song, when joined together with ‘2 Mai’ and ‘Poveste Din Tara Mea,’ shows clearly why Rough Romanian Soul is anything but rough.  If anything it is a record that will be easier on audiences’ ears with each listen.  When audiences take in the album’s other songs, they will agree that those songs, together with the pieces noted here, make Rough Romanian Soul an album with plenty of substance and just as much soul.  They will agree that it is one of this year’s best new World music offerings.

Rough Romanian Soul, Zmei3’s debut album, is one of this year’s top new World music offerings.  That is due to the album’s mix of both musical and lyrical content.  From beginning to end, that mix of content gives this record plenty of substance and soul.  It is available now.  More information on Rough Romanian Soul is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.zmeitrei.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZmeiTrei

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ZmeiTrei

 

 

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