At this point, Israeli singer/songwriter Idan Raichel has accomplished a tremendous amount of music. To be honest with my readers, his stint as a solo pianist didn’t do it for me. I found his songs too long and stunted by lack of a functional hook. That, of course, was just my take. And Idan did need a break from his band and needed to try something new.
But for And If You Will Come To Me (Cumbancha, 2019), Raichel tunes into his pop music sensibility while offering his most eclectic set of songs- which, for him, means quite eclectic. Usually intent on integrating the Middle East sounds ingrained in him, he still manages to go around the world, from Cuba to Euro clubs, to the desert. The album is laced with synth drums offering fat and propulsive patterns, along with layered whirs and whizzes that have come to be absolute necessities in pop music. Clearly, I have some opinions about the need for them, but some musicians, like Raichel, have the ability to use them tastefully.
In the beginning, “Galgal Mistovev (Spinning Wheel)” has a classic Middle Eastern pop quality to it, a kind intro to the album that will be, from this point onward, be zinging in a million directions. Soon following, “Ahava Ka’zo (A Love Like This)”, featuring Zehava Ben, is pretty in execution, if not cliche in structure. The title track (“Ve’Eem Tavo’ee Elay” in Hebrew) typifies his sound, his voice yearning and tempered, lavishly crawling over the chorus. Then, as the album reaches apex, we get a string of excellent songs. “La Eternidad Se Perdio (The Eternity That Was Lost)” integrates Cuban flare perfectly, including swirling horns. The sound is uncharacteristic of Raichel, but done here so well.
Three songs make the album most worth a listen, however. “Imidiwanine (My Friends)” features musical megathon Bombino. It’s a thumping, dance-ready, piece of art. It barely wanders from a strict club beat and guitar lick, but instead uses instrumental breakdowns and volume to alter intensity.
Secondly, “Beresheet (In The Beginning)” draws on Indian tabla and strings. Fans of Trevor Hall’s newer sound stylings will gush over this song, which builds and collapses like dark, frothy ocean waves. It’s really catchy and rich.
Finally, “Ketero (Let’s Meet)” features Idan’s band The Idan Raichel Project. The blistering horns, funky guitar, and roaring tempo make this the album’s most digestible song, one more keen on feel than sound, one that crosses over the pop boundary most fluidly.
My honest assessment of AIYWCTM is that it’s messy. Idan intentionally allowed himself to record what felt right in the moment, to be playful. The album is a restorative rekindling of his romance with music. Because the songs are so different from one another, it feels like a compilation without a theme. Still, it’s probably my favorite album he’s made. We didn’t talk too much about the lyrics, but the CD version of the album comes with the words translated into English. Idan tackles politics, love, and growth poetically, calling on raw emotion and intense interpersonal conflicts.
Isn’t that something to give some time to?