Friday, November 21, 2008, 05:21 PM ( 3023 views ) - CD Reviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeIt’s about time there was a really awesome Hanukkah cd to gather traditional and new songs and, yes, I have to make a terrible dreidel pun – put a new spin on them. And who is the person to do this? None other than Erran Baron Cohen (brother of Sacha and composer of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). Baron Cohen brings an eclectic and yet entirely suitable group of artists to his compilation, Songs in the Key of Hanukkah.
From Israeli artists Yasmin Levy, Idan Raichel and Avivit Caspi to New York’s Y-Love to Jules Brookes, not one of the performances falls short. Hanukkah oh Hanukkah starts the cd off with a bit of rap flavor from Y-Love – and he raps his part in Yiddish. Dreidel, one of my very favorites (who couldn’t love this song?) is again updated with a more, shall I say urban nuance to it. The Ladino song Ocho Kandalikas gets a jazzy treatment, including the sultry vocals of Yasmin Levy. Original song Spin It Up has some beautiful trumpet playing from Baron Cohen and it’s just all around fun. Jules Brookes appears again on Look To The Light, a positive and very happy piece that’s actually inspiring. Another favorite of mine is Relics of Love and Light, featuring a gorgeous combination of vocals from Levy, Raichel and Caspi.
The cd wraps up with My Hanukkah (Keep the Fire Alive) and Ma’oz Tzur. My Hanukkah is nearly all Y-Love with some nice backing vocals by Israeli/British singer Dana Kerstein. Y-Love exhorts us to defend the tradition and then I think this is done in the end with Dana Kerstein’s performance of Ma’oz Tzur. I’m perhaps biased because I am a big fan of holiday music and yet I think this cd has great crossover appeal.
Watch the brilliant video for Dreidel here.