GUEST POST: Leibel B on Mordechai Ben David's new album Tza'akah: Review

Mordechai Ben David, AKA the king of Jewish Music, released his 36th (!!) album Tzaakah on June 4th. Here is Jewish music fan Leibel B.'s impression of it:

MBD’s latest offering is great listen. Even if he can’t reproduce the magic and brilliance of his heyday, Tza’akah is a well rounded mix of fun, beautiful music.

Much like MBD’S last few albums, Tza’akah has Yeedle written all over it. Yeedle is a master of producing music that is eminently listenable, catchy, and singable. The album is replete with wordless oys and yos; ooohs, aahhs and nah nah nahs, the kind that you might burst into singing anywhere from he shower to grocery store. 

Many of the songs have parts which are reminiscent of MBD and Avraham Fried songs of old, including Keser Meluchah and Ashrei Haish— though they are given more modern, and at times electronic, arrangements. 
One minor criticism: One hook in Ashrei Ha’ish, though, bears a striking resemblance to Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines,” which I did not appreciate (not least because it made me and my crack team of goyish music researchers go find which song was tugging at my memory).

I love the ballads on the album. They are pretty songs, sung beautifully, and arranged even better. Hinei Yamim is the most “dramatic” of the bunch, with a full orchestral and choir backing. My personal favorite, even though it highlights MBD’s fading vocals, is “Hineni Rofeh Loch,” which quickly took up residence in my head and is showing no signs of leaving. Ve’anpoho Nehirin and Yaaleh are classics in that you’ll feel you have heard them before, but they are all beautiful songs.

In Psach Lanu Shaar, a pleasant ballad dressed as more of a kumzitz song — we get a cameo from Motti Steinmetz, who, if Youtube is to be trusted, seems to be someone MBD really enjoys singing with.

Overall, the theme is pleasant, singable songs. Even the uptempo songs, like Kol Haneshama and Bo’ee Kallah, remain soft and almost relaxing, with none quite hitting “rock” territory or getting too fast and furious.

The true strong point of the album is the music. A forgettable song like “Havel Havalim” is given a great jazzy arrangement that makes it loads of fun. The same goes for Kavsah Achas — just a fantastic arrangement to an otherwise “meh” song, though that nah nah nah is going to be heard all over the place.

The biggest weakness of the album is how repetitive it is. Most songs have a handful of words which get repeated over and over again. If the music wasn’t as good as it is, it would be difficult to listen to some of these songs.

The one perplexing song to me is the title track, Tza’akah, which seems to me like it was a ballad but put to a fast disco beat, and I’m not a fan. I would love to hear the song redone much slower with a more acoustic arrangement — any takers?

While the album doesn’t have any truly standout songs, all told it is a wonderful, solid album that gets better with each listen.

Leibel B is a Jewish music fan who tweets under the handle @squilled. He has previously published reviews on, including a great review on Benny Friedman's Fill the World With Light, which you can check out here.