Friday, September 18, 2009

Shirei HaLevi'im, pop for singing, crying, and davening

A gentle organ, swirling and building. Crisp guitar, added on in layers. And finally a gentle poet voice calls out "L'David Mizmor."

Ben Epstein's Shirei HaLevi'imWelcome to the world of indie-pop musician Ben Epstein. In his debut album, Shirei HaLevi'im, Epstein has done something rather magical. He's taken Tehillim (Psalms) written millennia ago by David Ha-Melech (King Davd) and, once again, given them life as intensely personal and intimate songs. Because this is how they started, right? David, warrior and king, conflicted and embattled, pouring out his fear, hope, love and longing in the best way he Epstein's flawlessly crafted pop flows effortlessly, one memorable melody tumbling out after another. This is an album to be sung along with, jumped up and down with, and, on a clear starry night like tonight, cried along with. In releasing this album, Epstein has joined the ranks of Orthodox Jewish musicians like Matisyahu, Y-Love, Blue Fringe, and Stereo Sinai, who are both devout in practice and able to translate their religious experience into music that is approachable and meaningful to a wide audience.

Seriously folks. This is a fantastic album that's been in heavy rotation lately. I have every expectation that given some time and promotion, that Epstein will take the Orthodox pop world by storm in the same way that Blue Fringe did. I have every hope that the wider Jewish community embraces him, too. This is some seriously good music. Here are some clips of a couple of my favorite tracks, and you can hop over to CD Baby to hear the rest.




Epstein is just getting rolling as a musician. This album was put together as a recording project and he's still putting his road show band together. I'll keep everyone posted about his gigs as I hear about them.

So here's a funny thing, I may be helping him get some of those gigs. Epstein and I have been emailing back and forth a lot since his album came out. He's brand new to the scene and I've been giving him some pointers (as best I can). And, like many artists, is much more comfortable writing and playing music and than engaging in shameless self-promotion. So I've offered to help him get the word out and try to help him get some gigs. This is not a relationship I've had with a band before and so I'm really not sure how it will work out. But I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.

And I'll start now... I've got a fantastically talented Jewish indie-pop musician who's looking for venues to play for Jews of all types, with emphasis on the Othodox / Chassidic communities. Where should he play? Any bands want to play with him? He'd love to open for you. Drop me a line if you've got ideas.


harrit said...


This is the first time I’ve read about this. I keep learning new things everyday!

Jack said...

Harrit, I'm not sure what the story is here. That link look very-spam like but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

For anyone interested in indie-pop, here's a better definition from Wikipedia