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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

REBBESOUL

By Michael Stone
Published March 24, 2006

Change The World With A Sound
33rd Street

Singer and multi-instrumentalist RebbeSoul, a decidedly unorthodox voice in popular Jewish music, packs an eclectic armament (guitars, mandolin, balalaika, bass, keyboards, Middle Eastern percussion and digital sleight-of-hand). Sampling widely from traditional Jewish and Arabic music, rock, funk and hip-hop, he forges a danceable fusion defying easy categorization. An anthem to peace in the Middle East, Change The World issues a compelling call in “Shalom,” inquiring pointedly against insistent Levantine percussion, “Why can’t it be now, why can’t it be today?” “Esa Enia,” an Old Testament text attributed to King David, adapted by Reb Schlomo Carlebach, enlists the lyrical talents of Neshama Carlebach and rapper Prophet X, with Hendrix-inspired guitar and a driving Middle-Eastern rhythm. In the album’s most subtle offering, “Qaafilah” weaves an irresistible bass-and-percussion hook through a tasteful, feedback-dappled guitar solo, yeoman work by Palestinian violinist Nabil Azzam, and a vocal allusion to the Islamic call to prayer. Closing with an affecting vocal effort on “Avinu,” a reflective interpretation of a traditional text, RebbeSoul crafts an energetic sound that may just deliver upon the title’s promise.