Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Arnie Davidson & Project Ben David

A couple of days ago I go turned on to Project Ben David, a new album of songs composed by Arnie Davidson and arranged/produced by Beth Schafer. PBD is "10 prayer based melodies will hook you and quickly get under your skin and into your soul. These songs will soon become the new 'standards' for this generation." PDB is an album out of the Contemporary Jewish Music scene, which means almost by definition I'm not too keen on it. (Some of you might remember my non-complimentary review of Beth Schafer's album a while back. I've still got bruises from the drubbing I got in my comments section over that one.) But I figure I'd go give it a listen.

I wish I could say I liked it, but I mostly didn't. Like most of the music I associate with CJM, it seems to derive largely from Debbie Friedman's music which came out of the 1970's easy listening pop guitar world. On his personal website, Arnie Davidson lists "James Taylor, Steely Dan, Phil Collins, Randy Newman and a touch of Michael McDonald and Todd Rundgren" as his influences. While each of these musicians were talented and well loved, I personally find their music tepid, timid, and tedious. (Just my taste, folks.) That's mostly how I react to the tracks on PBD. Pretty, but musically and lyrically uninteresting. (again, just my taste).

But then I heard Davidson's "Esa Einai." Davidson voice has a strong, understated, sincerity. The lyrics are simple and sublime. The guitar playing lifts them and me up. I'm not sure why, but I believe this one lives up to the "new standard" claims. I'll remember it for a long time. I've listened to the full track about 5 times already (Davidson's made it freely available) and expect I'll listen to it 5 more times tonight and play it for my wife when she gets home.

Totally unexpected. Totally wonderful.

So, go listen to the song clips on the Project Ben David website. Maybe there one of the tracks I didn't like will hit you like Esa Einai hit me. I'm willing to believe one might.

(by the way, Esa Einai's full emptiness reminds me of some of the tracks I love on Mare Winingham's "Red Rock Redemer." Definitely check that out as well.)

Related Posts: 'Beth Schafer: Universal and Particular,' Music, Setting, and Grass Clipping,' Mare Winingham's Red Rock Sublime

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