I’m all for firsts here…I’ve listened to and reviewed plenty of different genres in the past, everything from blackened death metal to K-pop…but never have I ever come across an album classified as ‘Jewish folk-pop’…until now. YERACHMIEL who was originally based in New York, recently moved to Israel where he has fully immersed himself in the culture and traditions of his religion and heritage, and he uses these influences and inspirations to fuel quite the prolific musical career it would seem! “Off The Derech” is his 6th studio album; a collection of 21 original songs which he’s asked me to check out. Truth be told I’d rather bath with my nan, but out of respect and I guess curiosity…let’s give this a whirl.
The album opens up with “Great To Be Alive” and having been on lock-down for five weeks now, this sentiment is already testing my patience. The track itself is admittedly a pleasant little dose of melodic soft-rock; the loose guitar play and light piano combine well to give off a certain late 80’s / early 90’s feel…you could maybe bracket it alongside the likes of JIMI JAMISON for example, but the levels of positivity here are borderline sickly. This positive energy is also incredibly abundant in the track “Temple”. It’s starts off as if it’s the intro theme to some cheesy 1970’s family sitcom, but it oozes its loving message of faith and togetherness to point where you feel like you’re watching Songs Of Praise trying to be edgy. I have my fingers on MY temples…and I require co-codamol.
One thing I will say for Yerachmiel mind is that he isn’t afraid to dabble in crossover genres…I mean the last thing you’ expect to find in an Israeli recording studio is reggaeton or ska, but that’s exactly what you find on “7th Wonder” and “Your Name Be Praise”. The former is as though BOB MARLEY got so fucking high one day he woke up in the middle east, with its brass-based low-fi instrumentation, while the latter houses more of a subtle, indie-based core sound akin to say, UB40. It’s honestly an interesting mash-up I’ll give it that. True highlights however are sadly minimal and frankly hard to point out…”Earth Is Trembling” does have a solid, up-tempo, oompah rhythm which is both fun and energetic, despite it's damning opinion of mankind. “Tears In A Falling Rain” combines a soulful, funk aesthetic with the more traditionalist middle eastern percussion, while the string instrumentation on “Stay True” borders on country bluegrass.
It’s a confused album quite frankly, and over the course of the twenty one tracks here it’s as though he’s thrown whatever he could at the wall just to see what stuck, and to be honest I don’t think he cared if something stuck or not. There is a lot going on here and we can all really respectfully say that, this track listing can do with a bit of a cull. I’m not suggesting we go all Nazi and wipe the album out entirely, that would be in poor taste even for me…but the album doesn’t need to be THIS long, especially with so many of the tracks already suffering from repetition. Off The Derech? I must be off my rocker to have believed I might enjoy this one, this really isn’t my cup of Wissotzky.