Review: Lenka Lichtenberg with Fray - Embrace
|Artist:||Lenka Lichtenberg with Fray|
|Date of Release:||2013/04/22|
|Country of Release:||CAN|
|Sub-Genre/s:||World Fusion, Yiddish, Arabic, Middle Eastern|
|Date of Review:||2013/06/20|
Lenka Lichtenberg With Fray's Embrace was released on 22nd April. Why this album was not released on one of the major world music labels such as ARC Music, WMN World Music Network, or Harmonia Mundi - World Village is a mystery to me.
I feel compelled to make an exception and begin more or less with the conclusion in respect of this outstanding album. Embrace is world music in the truest sense of world fusion and in a year so far of outstanding releases still stands head and shoulders above the rest. It sends chills up and down your spine and makes the eyes moisten, and it is an absolute must have for any serious world music aficionado and especially for any world fusion or Jewish music connoisseur.
The material on Embrace ranges from traditional Yiddish and even modern liturgical to contemporary original singer-songwriter and much more in between, with strong Arabic and Israeli world music influences in styles and arrangements, and even the odd hint of Latin, and a select instrumentation that is as eclectic as everything else about this album.
Ms. Lichtenberg is essentially a singer-songwriter-guitarist, and a fabulously gifted one at that. Her vocal style fits perfectly both into the Yiddish tradition as well as the Middle Eastern/Arabic, and it is pure delight. Her compositions, whether to Yiddish poetry or more traditional Yiddish material, whether Jewish liturgical or contemporary singer-songwriter, are outstanding. And, where they occur, her own lyrics in English or Yiddish cannot be faulted and stand out from the crowd, as it were. All the superlative arrangements, bar Tumbalaika (Ernie Tollar), are her own. Over the years, Lenka Lichtenberg has grown into a giant.
Supported by her excellent and versatile band Fray (Yidd., 'free'), Ms. Lichtenberg also assembled an equally excellent and versatile cast of special guests for Embrace. The latter most notably include legendary Israeli world music giant Yair Dalal, who plays oud and violin on Perfume Road, a new arrangement with Lichtenberg's Yiddish lyrics of the title track of his 2001 album The Perfume Road with his Al Ol Ensemble. (This latter is still one of my own favourite world music albums of all time and one of the best examples ever of world fusion.) Attracting a collaborator like Dalal surely must in itself say a lot about Lichtenberg and her music! Dalal is also the inspiration behind Peace Is The Only Way - his personal mantra.
Perfectly consistent throughout, Embrace is a magical album full of charm and beauty that grips the listener and won't let go - you'll want to play this over and over. It became an instant firm favourite here, and is already among my all-time favourites of the world fusion genre. This album appeals on so many levels.
The CD comes in a superb triple cardfold with a booklet with the lyrics, the cover art instantly evoking feathers somehow. So go and buy Lenka Lichtenberg With Fray's Embrace as CD rather than digital download - definitely worth it. Oh, and there is a bonus track on the CD, not listed. It's an album to die for!
1. Raise a Cup of Joy (L. Lichtenberg) - 4:05
Credits:Lenka Lichtenberg - vocals, guitar
Chris Gartner - bass
John Gzowski - guitars, oud, bouzouki, ukulele
Alan Hetherington - drums, pandeiro, percussion
Ravi Naimpalli - tabla, darbuka, dholak
Ernie Tollar - saxophone, ney, bansuri, bass flute, silver flute, penny whistle
Yair Dalal - oud, violin (6)
Christian Dawid - clarinet (7, 9), bass clarinet (3), bell flute (7)
Dhruba Ghosh - sarangi (1, 2)
Ed Hanley - tabla (6)
Anwar Khurshid - sitar (1)
Julien Labro - accordion (5, 11)
Hugh Marsh - violin (1, 2, 8)
Roula Said - qanun (2, 4, 8)
Kevin Turcotte - trumpet (11)
Embrace can be purchased from:
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